Helping the unemployed

May 8, 2009 — Leave a comment

unemploymentWith more and more people finding themselves unemployed, I felt it would be appropriate to address some of the issues associated with it. While fewer people appear to have been laid off last month than in the previous one, the unemployment rate of 8.9% is the highest in 25 years — since September 1983. 

There are many issues associate with unemployment, including:

  • Worry / Stress / Anxiety 

Medical professionals report that they are seeing more and more people for anxiety-related problems and psychosomatic issues, such as sleep and appetite disturbance, headaches, upset stomach, and panic attacks. And they are dispensing antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications to help the unemployed cope with their plight.

  •  Declining physical health

In addition to the psychological issues related to unemployment, there are increasing risks to physical health as well. As we all know, healthy food is more expensive than junk food — and in economic times when every penny counts, the unemployed are turning to fast food and processed foods to help make ends meet. Unfortunately, many are also paying less attention to their physical conditioning, cutting out regular exercise. At a time when they really should be taking care of themselves — for good first impressions during interviews — many of the unemployed are finding it much easier to just sit on the couch and feel sorry for themselves. This is a dangerous trap indeed.

  • Lack of fulfillment

We all know that most people get a real sense of personal satisfaction from their jobs. Even if they don’t necessarily enjoy the work, having a regular job gives people purpose and a reason to get up and face each day. There is a very real sense of grief associated with loss of a job. It is easy for the unemployed to fall into depression.

  • Family Strife

When the going gets tough, family relationships frequently suffer. Strapped by financial difficulty and worry, it can become especially easy to lash out at spouses and children. In cases where extended family members are being called on for financial support, inability to repay debt in a timely fashion can add to the relational stress. For some, moving in with extended family is the only option to avoid homelessness.

  • Floundering faith

I have several Christian friends who have been looking for work for more than a year now. While they remain optimistic that something will open up soon, these friends also admit the toll that unemployment has taken on their personal faith — not so much their belief in God, but rather their lack of understanding of how He is working out His purposes in their lives. One friend I spoke with today told me that she didn’t know where next month’s mortgage payment will come from, but she added, “God always provides.”

Tips for relating to unemployed persons

During these difficult times, I urge you to be an encourager to those who are seeking employment. Here are just a few tips:

  • If you are gainfully employed, be grateful. Try not to complain about your work in the presence of those who have no job. 
  • Try not to complain about high prices to your neighbor who has no income. 
  • Be willing to offer assistance. Even providing a hot meal once per week can meet a great practical need for those struggling to find work.
  • Offer to watch the kids — at no charge. Most couples do not get to have date nights very often. In this economy, the cost of a meal and movie PLUS babysitting makes quality couple time even more difficult. 
  • Invite your unemployed friend or neighbor to go to church with you. When people fall on hard times, they are often most receptive to messages of hope. And if their interaction with people has been limited, they may just enjoy the opportunity to have some human interaction.
  • Pray for your unemployed friends, neighbors, and family members. And let them know you are praying for them.

Your understanding and encouragement can go a long way to make a positive difference for those struggling through unemployment.

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