Read Genesis Chapter 26
Now there was a famine in the land… (Genesis 26:1)
I just saw an article that said the job market is improving. I think that means the journalist who wrote about the “improving job market” still has a job. In the last two days I’ve spoken with three of the most capable, competent, men of character that I know — and all three lost their job, all three lost their source of provision.
Genesis 26 is a study in how to respond to that situation. That situation that all or most of us will encounter at one time or another. That situation that has recently become more common due to the down economy and the depressed job market. That situation called unemployment. I believe there are 6 things that we can learn about unemployment from Isaac’s example in Genesis 26. We’ll learn how to Spend, how to Surrender, how to See, how to Seek, how to Sustain, and how to remain Secure.
1) Spend — Spend time with the LORD
The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt…” (v. 2)
Providing for your family is a big deal. God tells us in 1 Timothy 5:8 that anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
If you find yourself out of work, take the time to seek God’s direction. Read your Bible, go to church and take notes, seek wise counsel from those older, wiser, and more godly than yourself, fast and pray, go for walks and pray, if you wake up in the middle of the night then take a minute to get on your knees and pray, lay down on your face and pray. Providing for your family is a big deal. Seek His direction — earnestly.
In other words find ways to spend time with Him. There’s great blessing in spending time with the LORD. While in God’s presence, not only did Isaac receive direction about where to go and where not to go, but he also received the promise for Isaac’s descendants to be as numerous as the stars, to receive huge tracts of real estate, and for all the world to be blessed through his offspring. (Genesis 26:2-5)
2) Surrender — Surrender to His direction
So Isaac stayed in Gerar. (v. 6)
So often we know where the LORD would have us to go but we go where we shouldn’t go. We know what the LORD would have us do but we do what we shouldn’t do. I know of an alcoholic who took a job in a bar and of course tragic events ensued. I know of a young man who loved to party who took a job where he knew his co-workers were party animals and an out of control life was the result (although is his case he eventually left that scene, relocated to Oregon, and currently enjoys an abundant Christian life). Of course to receive the benefit of the LORD’s direction you have to follow the LORD’s direction.
Though he went to an area near Egypt, at least Isaac obeyed the LORD’s command for him not to go into Egypt. As you pray through your situation keep your eyes and ears open for His leading. Trust that He’ll come through eventually. Try things. Apply for jobs. Go to interviews, even those you’re not qualified for. Your chances that the LORD will open a door for you increase if you make it your business to knock on doors. Once you’ve received God’s direction then follow it, go for it. Be obedient and submitted to the LORD’s leading. (Genesis 26:6)
3) See — See failures as a normal part of success
He moved on from there and dug another well… (v. 22)
Failure is a necessary part of success. Nothing great was ever accomplished without failure. Michele Hoskins was a single mother with three children who had just lost her job. So to get back on her feet she had an idea to start her own business selling syrup made from her great-great grandmother’s secret recipe. She was able to place her syrup in a few local grocery stores but only if she gave it to them for free. If they sold then she would bill them. Her strategy and tactics to expand her small business beyond this was interesting to say the least. She set out to sell her syrup to Denny’s restaurants but after contacting the right people they said no. So what did she do? She called them every Monday at 10:30 AM for two years!
When Denny’s hired a new CEO his people told him about the lady who called every Monday trying to sell them her syrup. Well it just so happened that around this time Denny’s was experiencing a public relations nightmare as they were being sued for mistreating African American workers. Michelle Hoskins just so happens to be black. So this new CEO recognized that Michele’s great-great grandmother’s syrup was just exactly what Denny’s needed.
Shortly thereafter, Michele became a millionaire.
Initially Isaac experienced success and blessing in Gerar but after a time the king threw him out.
So he set out to establish himself elsewhere. He dug a well, but after he dug the well the herders of Gerar claimed the water for themselves. Verse 20 tells us that Isaac named the well Esek which means dispute.
Verse 21 tells us that Isaac moved on and dug another well. But the people from Gerar claimed the water from that one also, so he named the well Sitnah which means opposition.
After that he went down to his local state employment office and filed for unemployment. He kept his cable TV and enjoyed chips and dip purchased with food stamps while he sat on the couch watching ESPN, day after day after day after day…
NO! That’s not what Isaac did.
What did Isaac really do? He dug another well. And finally, no one quarreled over it. So he named it Rehoboth which means room. Room to establish himself. Digging and digging and digging and digging resulted in water and provision to take care of his family. I’m not saying that there aren’t times when it makes sense to collect unemployment — that’s not the point. I’m talking about attitude. I’m talking about persistence. I’m just saying that when you get shut down, move on and dig another well.
Your chances that the LORD will open a door for you increase if you make it your business to knock on doors.
4) Seek — Seek the LORD during the good times as well as the bad
Isaac built an altar and called on the name of the LORD. (v. 25)
Many of us run to the LORD during tough times. We seek Him out and spend time with Him when we’re desperate for His help. I think it says something about someone when they’re committed to their relationship with the LORD in both the good times and the bad. I’m reminded of Tim Tebow who seems to be committed to giving thanks to the LORD, publicly, in the face of great criticism, every time he experiences success on the football field.
Shortly after Isaac dug the well named Rehoboth, he went up to Beersheba and built an altar. When things improved Isaac didn’t distance himself from the LORD but he continued to build his relationship with God by building an altar. Great blessings are poured out where ever the LORD is found. But if you’re not where the LORD is then your not in position to receive God’s blessings. Two of the most successful and blessed men in history, David and Daniel, spent time in the LORD’s presence three times a day. (Psalm 55:17; Daniel 6:10)
5) Sustain — Sustain your relationships
Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully. (v. 31)
In Genesis 26:26-31 we see the same people who threw Isaac out of Gerar approach Isaac seeking a treaty. Isaac was wise in that he didn’t burn any bridges. Though they threw him out of Gerar, though they were hostile toward him in attitude, though they were envious of him, though they stopped up his father’s wells, though they even claimed two of Isaac’s wells as their own, Isaac kept their relationship intact. He showed them grace in verse 30 when he made a feast for them, ate with them, and drank with them. He invested in his relationship with them. He made peace with them.
6) Security — Find your security in Him
The youngest of the three men I mentioned at the beginning of this post just turned thirty years old. I asked him today, “Having just lost your job yourself, what advice do you have for people out there who have just lost their job?” I wondered how he might respond. I wondered if he’d talk about persistence, or interview technique, tips for searching online for jobs but he didn’t talk about any of those things.
He said, “Your sense of well being, your sense of security has to come from something other than your job, or even your wife and family. It has to come from something eternal.”
It has to come from your relationship with Christ.
I spoke with all three of the men I mentioned at the beginning of this post in an effort to encourage them but I left each conversation encouraged and inspired myself. They all seem to have great confidence in what the LORD has planned for each of their respective futures. I’ll be surprised if I don’t see all three, by God’s grace, land on their feet.
Spend time with the LORD seeking His direction. Surrender yourself to that direction. See failures as a normal part of the process toward success. Seek the LORD in the good times as well as the bad — you’ll be abundantly blessed. Sustain your relationships, even with the ones who sent you packing.
And finally, find your security in Him.
In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.
Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.
Psalm 62:7-8 (KJV)