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Counting It All Joy...Even When Joy Seems Elusive

A Testimony from Ron Mitchell

Late in 2018 during the holiday season I was laid off from a job I loved and held for almost 20 years that I truly expected to retire from in 6-8 years. My firing came with very little notice and in was in fact one week before a scheduled surgery. If you have ever been laid off by a corporation of any size, you’ll know the coldness or hard procedures of the dehumanizing termination process. You get to collect your meager belongings and then leave under a solemn escort. No chance to say goodbye to friends or co-workers. Along with being fired there is a sense of grief because there is no chance for closure with co-workers.

Being almost 60 years old I was concerned about the ageism and the job-hunting process since I had been out of game for almost 20 years, and then I found out how much the game had really changed. Resumes are read by computer programs, and most all of the hiring process is done online with tests, online interviews, psychological profiles, LinkedIn profiles and Facebook inspections along and lots and lots of uncertainty.

At the time of my layoff I was studying the early church history along with reading James and a detailed study of the book of Job. Through my studies, support from family and friends I was able to build a good prospective of my situation.

James says in chapter one verse 2-4

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you are meet with trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

So, we are to meet disaster with an expectation that God will provide us with personal and spiritual growth as long as we work on our faith. Did I always do that? Probably not all the time, in my mind and in some conversations with my Wife. But I always strove to be steadfast and have a joyful heart towards my family, friends and our church body as well as my former workers when I had contact. I kept a schedule, worked at finding work and continued to pray and study the Bible.

It took many ups and downs to land a good job along with a lot of time, seven months in fact. On the journey there was interviews where we discussed “overqualifications”, there were pay requirements and adjustments, job commutes or relocation decisions and some skill building obstacles to overcome. There were also budget concerns along with healthcare adjustments. But, through prayer from friends and family along with lots of ongoing encouragements I was able to land a job where I have a great boss and fellow management and a real plus because several are Christians. And to add to the praise of my God, I was able to dodge the first and second rounds of layoffs at my new job due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

If I compare my job search to the current situation, we now find ourselves in, it is different but contains many of the same fears. Different because now there are a lot more people affected at the same time, where I was one of a few that were displaced in a growing economy. It is the same because there is a massive amount of uncertainty, like my fears of ageism and “can I ever find a comparable job to the uncertainty of now” to “when will this virus pandemic ever end”? These times are full of uncertainties that seems to change daily a lot like the ups and downs of a job interviews.

We are promised that when “we count it all joy” and when “we meet trails of various kinds” that we will gain faith and will be made “perfect and complete” Which simply means to grow both mentally and in moral character- in essence more Christlike.

Often there are upsides to what is put into our lives, I don’t think we need to complain to God, we need to just ask Him “what is there for me to learn and grow” or “who is there for me to help using the resources you have blessed me with”? One thing that blessed me while I was unemployed was friends telling me that were praying for me, and I am quite sure many were more praying that I was unaware of. And although prayer most certainly helped, the most encouraging thing to me were the encouraging words and help of the church and my friends.

I may never know all that was done for me, but thanks, and thanks to God for all He has provided.

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