Friday, February 22, 2013

Dealing with Unemployment: A Lack of Patience

Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R79053 / CC-BY-SA
"Industrious Young Man Looking For Work"
"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
-Galatians 5:16-24

Last week I dove into the topic of how to deal with an abundance of rejection while going through an extended time of unemployment. If you are sending out resumes and applying for jobs you are going to end up dealing with some level of rejection. In my experience most people don't like to be rejected. Dealing with rejection is a part of life but that doesn't mean that it is fun. And repeatedly getting rejected over a long period of time will start to wear down even the strongest and most resolute person.

It was easier to deal with the rejection early on but after a while I started to become less and less patient. As we can see in the passage that I quoted above, patience is one of the Fruits of the Spirit. But even beyond this and other Scripture passages we can see the virtue of patience. So for me to say that going through an extended period of unemployment is going to test your patience should be fairly obvious. I also don't want to spend a lot of time going over how to be patient. A quick Google search will give you more resources than you can shake a stick at. (What an odd saying.)

What I would like to cover is that a lack of patience can be a pretty good indicator of being under chronic stress. Consider some of the symptoms of chronic stress that are also manifestations of impatience:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability or anger
  • Angry outbursts
  • Muscle Tension

And while we should be patient being under the chronic stress of unemployment is going to affect even the most patient person. Chronic stress is a very serious problem and can lead to a number of very serious health problems. The Mayo Clinic has great resources for identifying stress sources and how to deal with chronic stress. I highly recommend that if you are dealing with unemployment that you look over their resources in order to become aware of the potential problems and possible solutions.

From a theological stand point, my lack of patience is often due to a lack of trust in God. I start to get anxious and lose patience during this time because I start to doubt that God is in control of the situation. My guess is that anyone going through a prolonged difficult situation has those same doubts. Just look at what happened to Peter when he got out of the boat to walk on water in Matthew 14:22-32. He started to focus on the waves and wind and started to doubt that Jesus would keep him safe. The same is true for those of us facing the waves and wind of life can very easily start to doubt that God will keep us safe.

Don't hear what I am not saying. I am not saying that trusting in God means that everything in life will be roses and puppy dogs. There are those who have immense faith and end up losing their homes, going hungry, face persecution or are even killed for their faith. But if we have faith that God will be faithful to us in an eternal sense then it becomes easier to patiently endure the hardships of this life.

Of course it is very easy to say, “Have more faith.”

Sometimes it isn't so easy to do.

One of the things that I shared in my last post is that it is essential that I continually remind myself that I have a wife that loves me and that I have a Savior in Jesus Christ that loves me. I have found that the more that I remind myself of God's eternal love and care for me the easier it is for me to be patient. I have also found it equally important to remain in God's Word. In my life there is a direct correlation between my reading the Bible and my ability to trust in God. So my encouragement for those that are going through a prolonged and chronically stressful situation is to read God's word and to dwell on God's love. You may not be able to remove yourself from the stressful situation or to shorten the time frame. The solution to a lack of patience isn't a shortened wait. Rather what we can do is change how we react in the situation and to keep our eyes on the eternal promises of God. When we do that we help improve our patience and our ability to endure what ever hardships that we may face in this world.

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