One of the hardest parts of having a disease like cancer or being sick may be the loss of your job. You may choose to step away from it or someone else may decide for you. You may love what you do or be glad to go. Either way, losing you job is hard. Here are ten faithful steps you can take and Biblical promises you can hold on to even when everything else seems to slip away.
At the start of my own cancer journey, I feared losing my job more than losing my life. A year later my greatest fear came true. I was let go from ministry because of my cancer. Some felt it had diminished my effectiveness as a Pastor. A few months later, I began medical leave (aka disability). As I reflect on my experience, I can personally attest to the truthfulness and helpfulness of each of the following.
1. Lean into God‘s love.
God doesn’t love you for what you do. God loves you the same disable or enabled. God loves us unconditionally. When we can’t do it ourselves, we can learn how much God loves us and how much he has done for us. We can live in grace. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith…it is the gift of God— not by works... (Ephesians 2:8-9). Sing it with me: “Leaning on the everlasting arms!”
2. Allow yourself to rest.
You’ve been driving yourself hard for a long time, maybe your entire life. God rested after creating heaven and earth, and blessed rest (Genesis 2:2-3). You’ve worked hard, now take some time off, maybe a season, to care for yourself. God will bless it. Hear the voice of Jesus, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
3. Trust God.
You may take great pride in being the provider and “bringing home the bacon.” Now it’s time to trust the Lord: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11, KJV). Trust God to be with you and guide you. Cancer was never the plan; rest assured God‘s plan remains “to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
4. Look for good.
Losing your job may be horrible or maybe you’re happy to leave! Either way, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). You may feel betrayed and angry. They probably didn’t mean to hurt you, but even if they did remember Joseph: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20). Look for the ways God can turn your loss into gain.
5. Let go and let God.
Don’t hold on too tightly to your career. Let God fight this battle. When you feel stuck between Pharaoh’s army and the
Red Sea, remember Moses’ words to the Israelites: “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still" (Exodus 14:14). God delivered them to the Promised Land and will get you where you need to be. “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37).
6. Be patient.
Sometimes God’s help comes quickly. “Immediately he received his sight” (Mark 10:52). Other times we must wait. “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1). God will help you out of this slimy pit and set your feet on solid rock. Sometimes, the miracles of God are to amazing to receive all at once. They come “little by little.” (Exodus 23:30)
7. Be healed.
Being back to work and cancer free are just the beginning. Embrace this time to allow God to heal every dimension of your life: mind, spirit, body, and soul. “[Jesus] also healed every kind of disease and sickness” (Matthew 4:23). Anything broken in your life, can be healed; and made whole - your dreams, marriages, emotional well-being… Jesus asks, “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6)
8. Seek to serve.
Your purpose in life was never to be employee of the month, top producer, or CEO. Losing your job may enable you to discover true success. “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant… For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” (Mark 10:43-45). Those who lose their lives gain true life (Matthew 10:39). Look for someone to serve now.
9. Be a Friend.
Often work demands leave little time for friendships. Your cancer diagnosis showed you how many people love you. Their love revealed the importance of friendship. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Use this time to nurture these relationships and look for ways you can be there for them.
10. Grow in Holiness.
Advance your relationship with God. James reminds us, “even the demons believe in God” (James 2:19). We must show our faith by our works (James 2:18). Jesus told us our essential work is this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39). Knowing WWJD isn't enough. Designate this as a time to become like Jesus. In How Cancer Cured Me, I share my own experience of losing my job after cancer diagnosis. I open up about the impact this had on me and my family. I’m honest about what I lost, and positive about all that I gained. Click here to read a short excerpt from the book.