“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4: 19
It’s Easter Sunday, sometime in the mid-1970s. My Wisconsin and Illinois relatives have gathered for a festive noon meal at my parents’ home in Evergreen Park, IL. Grandma Henning sits on my immediate right. She places some food on her fork and begins to bring the fork to her mouth, but the fork freezes in mid-air. Grandma is having a small stroke. Flashback to 1956. I’m standing at the dining room window watching the ambulance take Grandma Dahlke to the hospital- the last time I see her alive. I remember the pervasive darkness. Back to the Easter meal. The next thing I know I’ve isolated myself in my bedroom, all alone in a crowded house.
A foreboding sense of isolation infiltrates our souls immediately following our ministry downsizing or vocation loss. When I was blindsided by the pronouncement of my teaching position loss right before Christmas break 2005, I went home to an empty condo- my wife having been hospitalized following emergency surgery for a life-threatening abscess two days earlier. Even though we cannot prevent subconscious remembrances from piercing our consciousness, we can choose our response. Although we are lonely- isolated from former co-workers, family, our church, even God- we are not alone. God’s everlasting love envelops us. Jesus is all we have to lean on- and He’s all we need.
John Ortberg writes in Who is This Man? that in Jesus’ day the word for “the good life” (in Christ) was blessed. Jesus taught that the good life was “now truly available to anyone regardless of outer circumstances (emphasis mine).” We who have experienced vocation loss are blessed because we have a distinctive spiritual joy as we share in the salvation of the kingdom of God. It is in that spirit that Matt Maher sings:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit who are torn apart . . .
Blessed are the people longing for another start,
For this is the Kingdom, the Kingdom of God.”