Reflections for Uncertain Times
With the second lockdown, our country is going through its greatest economic shock since World War II. The furlough scheme can only help businesses so far, and the public sector will soon feel the impact of ballooning national debt. At the same time, the rise of online shopping is transforming the retail sector, and the adjustment to Brexit continues in the Thames Valley, with several large employers relocating elsewhere in Europe. There is great uncertainty in all sectors of the economy.
This is having a significant impact on families in Maidenhead, and in our church family. We have already seen a number of redundancies across our congregations. Looking for work in the current job market can feel like a hopeless task, and for those still in work, there is less job security than before, and also new kinds of pressure at work. Who knew that working from home could be so difficult? But it is our firm conviction as Christians that the Lord is in control, and whatever situation we find ourselves in, we live and work for His glory. Work matters to God.
This series of short reflections is intended to help you think about your own circumstances through a Biblical lens. Each might take you 20 minutes or so. They can be done on your own, with a partner or in a small group. And if they bring up particular issues that you’d like to discuss further, the church staff team would be delighted to help. Do get in touch!
Reflection 1: What's the purpose of work?
Think back over your working life so far. What has motivated you? What have you found discouraging at work? And what would your ideal job look like?
The beginning and end of the Bible show us that God has a purpose for our work. It’s a purpose which gives us great dignity, whether we are employed or not!
Read Genesis 1:26-28
- How does mankind’s task show that we are made in God’s image?
- How does your own field of work contribute to this task?
For example, a retail worker organises items in the shop so that customers can find them and be blessed. A teacher helps children learn about the beautiful world God has made for them. An accountant checks that the finances are in order and honouring to God.
- In light of these verses, is it right to regard one job as more dignified than another?
- We are to subdue the earth under God’s rule. Does this need to involve a pay check?
Read Revelation 22:1-5
- What will Christian believers be doing in eternity? How are we already doing this?
- How might this understanding change your perspective on work today?
- How could it give you purpose during periods of unemployment or retirement?
Pray that God will help you see His purposes in our own situation.
Reflection 2: Why is my work so hard?
What have you found difficult about the jobs you’ve had? Try to be specific – was it the nature of the work itself, relationships with your colleagues, the uncertainty, ethical dilemmas, something else?
Read Genesis 3:11-20
- What is work like in a fallen world? Why do you think this still surprises us?
Read Ecclesiastes 2:15-25
- Do verses 15-23 reflect your own experiences of work?
- Do verses 24-25 describe what you want from your job? If not, what else are you hoping for?
- The writer of Ecclesiastes ends his book with a wise conclusion: live in the light of the coming judgement (12:13-14). How will Jesus’ return resolve all the problems we saw in 2:15-23?
Hint: in the book of Ecclesiastes, the word translated ‘meaningless’ literally means ‘like a mist’. In other words, work is temporary! And ‘under the sun’ means ‘in the current age’. Things won’t be like this forever!
Pray for perseverance and wisdom in your own circumstances, as we await the return of Jesus.
Reflection 3: What do I want from work?
Have you been frustrated when someone else gets a job that you felt you deserved? If you are currently working, would you like a promotion and why? What would you like to achieve by the time you retire?
Read Genesis 11:1-9
- How have you seen this tower-building attitude at work?
- How have you seen it in your own attitude to work?
- How is it different from the instruction we saw in Genesis 1:26-28?
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12
- What wrong attitudes about work are being addressed here?
- How could you obey verses 11-12 during a period of unemployment?
Note: In the 1 century there was no welfare state: verse 12 should not prevent us from claiming unemployment benefits! But how do we use our time usefully while searching for paid work?
Read Titus 3:1-8
- Where does your identity come from? How might this liberate you, whether you are in work or out of work?
- Do you think it is helpful or unhelpful to have career goals?
Pray for a godly identity and godly ambitions in your work life.
Reflection 4: How can I be content?
The Bible urges Christians to rejoice in the gospel whatever our circumstances. But it doesn’t feel easy if we are unemployed with bills to pay, or if we are in work and feeling anxious.
Read Philippians 4:4-13
- How are verses 4-7 different to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On?’
- What exactly was Paul’s secret to contentment?
- Are you bringing your anxieties to God in the way Paul describes in verse 6?
Read Colossians 3:22 to 4:1
- How would this instruction help you in a difficult workplace?
Note: In verse 24, Paul is not saying that your inheritance in heaven depends on how hard you work. Rather, your motivation in work is the certain inheritance that he already described in chapter 1 verse 12.
Read Acts 2:42-47
- What are the different ways in which the church family support each other?
- What might be preventing you from seeking help?
Pray for contentment in Jesus and connection with the church family as you approach the challenging weeks ahead.