Can you imagine being unemployed for 25 months? Can you imagine giving thanks for that period in your life?
No way, you're thinking. I could never give thanks for unemployment. Never.
I used to think that too. But I don't think it anymore.
In December, 2003, my husband, Gary, was six months in to what would turn out to be 25 months of unemployment. While he was able to obtain a part-time custodial job and also some part-time construction work to bring in a small income, he didn't land an "in his career field" job until July, 2005.
It was a very bleak time for our family, as we lived off our home equity and the meager income from those two part-time jobs. We were in this position because of me---because I had been so discontent that I had begged Gary to move from Idaho back across the country to Georgia. He had left a well-paying (though stressful) job to make that move, and when things didn't work out there and he couldn't find employment, we moved back to Idaho
We arrived back in Idaho in October, 2003, and job doors remained closed until July 2005; it was in that very difficult time that God put on my heart to begin giving him daily thanks for the blessings in my life.
It was Psalm 50 which spoke to my heart one morning in December of 2003 (v 23a "But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.") As surely as I know my own name, I knew God was instructing me to start a gratitude journal. And not just a gratitude journal, but a daily gratitude journal, recording five things each day.
Really, God? You want me to give thanks? Every day? For five things? How can I do that when we are in such difficult circumstances?
"Yes, my child," came the answer, "five things every day. Even now...especially now."
Digging out an old journal that had been lying around unused for years and opening up to the first blank page, I sat for what seemed like hours. What could I possibly thank God for in the midst of those bleak, uncertain times? An eternity later, I scribbled down...
1. Thank you for the ability to see 2. Thank you for the ability to hear 3. Thank you for the ability to breathe 4. Thank you for the ability to talk 5. Thank you for the ability to walk
The next day was equally tough, but I finally managed...
6. Thank you for good health 7. Thank you for a loving husband 8. Thank you for my beautiful daughter 9. Thank you for my fun-loving son 10. Thank you for our sweet beagle, Nikki
On and on it went like this until, finally, # 105---Thank you, God, for providing for us in this difficult time.
and then #185---Thank you for a job interview for Gary. We put it in your hands and ask for you to open the door.
#404---Thank you, God, for keeping that employment door closed. We know you have something else in mind and that you will reveal it at the right time.
Okay, so here I was giving thanks in all circumstances. But could I thank God for those circumstances. In a few more weeks, I would find out.
#796---Thank you for this time of unemployment, Lord. Being in this position has enabled us to see your hand of provision in ways we never have before.
Wow, I was finally not only giving thanks in my circumstances, but I was giving thanks for them. The act of giving thanks had changed me...had given me a new perspective.
Over and over, for many more months, I would find myself giving thanks for a job interview, then giving thanks once more when that employment door didn't open. Truly, the discipline of giving thanks carried me through those days. It enabled me to look around and see all the good things in my life, instead of the things I didn't have. Even more, it helped me to trust God with our future.
And you know what...God's timing was perfect. Eventually, he provided Gary with the job that led him to the company he works for today. And Gary says that where he is now is the best job he has ever had, with the best boss he's ever had. So, had doors opened earlier, he wouldn't be where he is today.
I encourage you, my friends, to start your own gratitude journal. Doing so will bless your socks off. It probably won't change your circumstances, but it will change you and how you look at those circumstances.