Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” Job 1:9-11
A recurring theme of my adult life has been one of struggling with work. Specifically, the struggle has been with finding work that both pays the bills and that I enjoy doing. Most of my jobs have been low paid monotonous drudgery. For a few years, I found work that I liked well enough, that eventually offered decent pay, but with a boss that was emotionally uneven, controlling, and immature.
Now, I realize that my struggles are shared by millions. I know that my pain is not unique. Before anyone tells me to “deal with it and get on with it”, please know that I have done just that.
Currently, my earnings aren’t enough to pay bills. Since starting my own business, I’ve never stopped looking for full-time work elsewhere. I’ve only turned down jobs that didn’t offer more (or much more) than I already earn–and even then I would have accepted work that I could have done in addition to my current work. But, most offered hours that would necessitate trading my current position for another of much the same offering.
All around me at church, I know there are people struggling with many different issues. The prayer list is pretty much filled with health trials. (In fact, if you removed all the prayer requests that involved health issues, the requests could probably fit into only a few lines of print). However, I haven’t met anyone that is actually living a day-to-day, week-to-week existence. What I mean is that most of the people I meet have homes, cars, retirement accounts, benefits–all the “normal” stuff of a middle-class existence in America. They have enough to support them for months or years, even if they didn’t get a paycheck for a while.
My struggles seem so different from theirs. I have heard of some financial struggles, so I know I’m not the only one. But, overall, I am uncertain that the church feels a need to do much about it and I don’t see anyone suffering the trial of faith that I do when the financial picture turns bleak.
We do have a benevolence fund at our church. A voluntary collection is made every time we have the Lord’s Supper and the funds are set aside strictly to help church members “in need”. I myself was a one time beneficiary of that fund. And what a joy and help it was! The help came, however, only after I sent a near begging plea to the church email prayer list (“Finances dire. Really needing more income. Praying God would be glorified in this, so that my unbelieving husband would see that God takes care of His children…” That’s pretty much the request I sent out).
When I’ve shared my struggle of faith, I get the response of “I’ll keep praying…” followed by averted eyes and distance.
When I read those verses in Job, I see myself in the words of Satan, and feel terrible for it. Please know, this is painful and embarrassing to admit, but I find myself wishing that God would look at the cozy and secure in my church and “knock them down a notch”. I wonder what the women would do if their husbands who support them sought to separate from them and they had to make their own way. I wonder what the wealthy men would do if God ceased to bless the work of their hands and instead made them work for minimum wage.
If “a man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven” (From John 3:27), then even the work that people find to do and the ability to succeed in it must be a gift from God. The ability to work in that job must be from God, too. The advice given to me will always be to “work more”, but the opportunities and the very ability to make a living come from God, not our own hands–“Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 5:19, italics added.
Once again, I plead and cry out to God for mercy, grace, and HELP. Please help me, oh God. Please Lord Jesus, have mercy on me. Grant me work and make me able and willing to work any job and pay my own bills so that I may “…lead a quiet life and attend to [my] own business and work with [my] hands… so that [I] will behave properly…and not be in any need.” From 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12