Blessed Are the Unemployed

So this is a blessing? We're blessed in being dependent, jobless, without resources, without status?

BY: Adrienne Thompson


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We try to keep things in perspective by counting our blessings. We have somewhere to live, we have each other, we have friends, we have family. People write or telephone with encouraging messages. It's good to feel that they care. But inwardly nagging is the feeling that we don't just want love, we don't just want support, we want to be doing something. We started out with great faith in our gifts and skills. Each rejection puts another hairline crack in our self-confidence. Maybe we're not so competent after all. Maybe all these people who turn us down are perfectly correct in their conclusion that we're not worth employing.

In counting our blessings I've gone back to the beatitudes. I learnt them as a child from a beautiful children's prayer book. The words are associated for me with a picture of bearded men in long robes sitting on a peaceful green hillside listening to a gentle discourse from a golden-haired Jesus. The way I'm learning them now a more appropriate picture would be a violent mountain torrent crashing down a steep gorge. My frail kayak hurtles around huge bluffs, each of them labelled: blessed ... blessed ... blessed.

Blessed are the poor in spirit. Or, as The Message puts it, "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope." So this is a blessing? We are blessed in being dependent, jobless, without resources? We're blessed in being poor in recognition and status? I look for the blessing here and find this: that we're experiencing God's fatherly care. We've had enough money to live on, even without a salary. We've opened in ourselves a small window on the experience of the truly poor of the world.

This encounter with loss--loss of friends, work, income, home, self-worth--is a deep wound. I can't find any sweetness or blessing in it at all. But Jesus said: Blessed are those who mourn, because they shall be comforted.

Will we feel in the future that God was our companion on this road of grief? Right now I can't say. The grieving is now, the comfort still future tense.

And blessed are the meek. Chewing and cogitating on what it means to be meek, I wonder whether this blessing can possibly be ours. It seems that this experience of unemployment may offer us an advanced class in meekness should we choose to enroll in it.

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