Unemployment Day 2020

Perhaps we should rename Labor Day 2020 as Unemployment Day 2020. The day came and went in a COVID-19 world that has destroyed dreams, plans, and any hope of economic stability for far too many people. Efforts to contain the highly contagious, and too often deadly, virus has meant closing businesses. This has left, depending on various sources, between an estimated 18 to 30 million people contenting with unemployment and bills they cannot pay. COVID fallout has led to an Unemployment Day 2020 that’s lasted much longer than a day.

Our family dealt with the panic of unemployment in back the 1980s.  As a partial response to that season of unwanted unemployment, I was asked by the Texas Lutheran Community to prepare a series of “Prayers for the Unemployed.” Last weekend I came upon them while sorting through some files. Perhaps a couple of these will comfort and encourage those who must contend with unemployment on top of everything else 2020 has thrown their way.

It’s Not Just Me

I guess I knew that – in my head.
But my heart was sure it was me.
Some horrible flaw in me that made me lose the job.
But it’s not me. It’s not.
I mean, of course I made mistakes. Who doesn’t?
But it’s not that, that made me lose the job.
There are others. Many others.
I had no idea how many others.
There are hundreds of us. Just in this city.
And others in other cities in this state.
And in other states too.
There are thousands and thousands of us.
We want to work.
We will work.
We do good work.
But we lost our jobs.

The company was going under.
Or they needed a new style of management.
Or the boss had to downsize. Or whatever.
The reasons don’t matter much.
They don’t help.
Knowing why doesn’t really address the how.

How do we find new jobs?
How do we survive through this draught?
How do we deal with the stress?
It helps knowing I’m not the only one.
I have lots of company. Lots of it.

I know who I am.
I want to work. I can work. I will work.
Lord, work with me to get me back to work.
And while I’m waiting, grant me courage to tell it like it is.
I lost my job. And I’ve got lots of company.

On Being Rejected, Again

It’s a numbers game.
Put out 100 resumes.
Hear back on 10.
Get one interview.
“Well, thank you for your time. I’m sorry but your skills–
while they are many–aren’t quite what we wanted.”

Put out another 100 resumes.
Hear back on 10.
Get one interview.
“Sorry–you’ve got good qualifications–but not what we need right now.”
Put out more resumes.

Oh, God. I have no strength left to put out more resumes.
To make more calls.
To read more job openings.
The odds are against me.
“Bad attitude.”
That’s what they say about people like me.”
“Got a bad attitude. That one does.”

Perhaps I do.
If so–I’m sorry.
Forgive me.
I am weak.
I am weary.
I am defeated.
But you are not.
You are strong.

Well Lord–as awful as it is, this numbers game–
I know no other way.
Grant me strength to go it one more round.
Maybe this time one of the 10 who respond will say,
“Welcome aboard.”
Grant me strength, Lord. I have none.
Thank you, God, that you do.
Thank you for your strength that sustains me.

Of Fishes and Loaves

At first, I felt rather foolish saying it.
“Come on over. We’d love to have you come for supper.”
Because the pantry was nearly bare.
The freezer was nearly depleted.
A pound of hamburger.
A half box of spaghetti.
That’s all.

And no money.
No dashing out to get more.
No money.
I panicked when they said,
“Sure. We’ll come.”
Oh, God.
What will we feed them?
How can I tell them?

You must be laughing.
You who made two fish and some bread feed the thousands.
To think a pound of hamburger and some spaghetti couldn’t feed an extra family
It was a feast.
The food was adequate. More than adequate.
Since they brought most of it.
Thank you, God for people who ask,
“What shall I bring?”

But it was the company that was divine.
How good it was to laugh again.
To tell jokes.
To remember old victories.
And defeats.
To swap successes.
And sorrows.
How wonderfully healing.
Amazing what you can do with a pound of hamburger.
And a half box of spaghetti.

Thank you for taking time to read this. Share it with someone you know who may need a little extra encouragement to face the challenges brought on by COVID-19. Sign up for your own free subscription at HowWiseThen. The rest of the Prayers for the Unemployed are available as a free download here.

I’m pleased to announce Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale or Two Cultures is scheduled for release in October. Here are three places available for pre-orders. Others will be available in the weeks to come.

Bookshop.org (Supporting local Indie Bookshops)
In Houston:
Blue Willow on Memorial at Dairy Ashford https://www.bluewillowbookshop.com
Barnes & Noble in River Oaks at W. Gray


  1. Powerful use of words and images. I had a visceral reaction to the distress. I do believe God is ‘hungry’ with us – whatever form the hunger takes.

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