My younger daughter called last night from Wichita. Yesterday, her husband, an aeronautical engineer, was laid off. They laid off all the contract workers, and thousands of the employees. This follows an earlier round of layoffs. The employees got two months pay. The contract workers got nothing. All of them were told to take their stuff as they left (and don’t come back). Glenn was a contract worker. Audrey is not employed. I have no idea what they are going to do.

I’ve known a number of people, including people from churches I’ve served and their families, who have been struggling with employment and financial issues: unemployment, under employment, temporary employment, huge drops in their retirement income, less income for their business … I’m 3/4 time at my church, though that was a choice I made — giving up a second half time job at St. George’s request, to be with them 3/4 time instead of half time. Still, it’s a real adjustment for Anne and I. And Anne is employed full time. Audrey and Glenn are the first members of our immediate family to be without any employment. And it’s scary.

Glenn has been well employed, full time, all his life. He’s always been in demand. When someone like Glenn gets laid off, it’s scary not just for them, but for all of us. If someone like Glenn can be laid off, who’s safe? Our current economic crisis is hitting people across the board: people from every economic level, people from just about every type of job you could imagine.

I’ve just gone back and looked at my first blog article, Uncertain Times.  I was reflecting on the uncertainty we all face.  And, it being Advent then, I contrasted it with the uncertainty that Mary and Joseph were facing as they began their family.  Joseph, with no advance warning, had to take his family to Egypt, a foreign country with a foreign language.  I hope he had some of his carpentry tools with him on their trip to Nazareth!

But the fact that our future is always uncertain is not much comfort when the ground drops out from under your life.  Audrey and Glenn will probably take little, if any, comfort from the fact that Mary and Joseph faced the same kind of challenges in their lives.  They may be able to turn things around for themselves.  Glenn’s the kind of guy, I think, who’s always been able to do this.  Audrey’s a strong person.  They may, however, have to turn to family, and friends, and even God.  Glenn has Kansas family.  Audrey has us.  I don’t think there’s all that much we can do to make them whole financially.  (I think he probably made more than we do.)  But if push comes to shove, we should be able to help them get by and move on with their lives.

And I know I’m still looking to God.  I’m not expecting aeronautical engineering jobs to drop out of the sky — though Glenn’s a talented guy and a hard worker, and he may find a new job.  And I will be praying for employment for both of them.  And that would be an answer to prayer.  But I am expecting strength from my God and solidarity with my God.  God will be with us in this mess.  And God can help us move through to the other side of this mess.  Even if I’m not sure what the answer to my prayers looks like.