"Another said, 'I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.' Jesus said to him, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9: 61-62)These were the words that spoke to me when I heard the gospel at mass today. I couldn't think of more appropriate words than these to address my current struggle as an unemployed man.
There are many moments when I wake up (particularly since I have been unemployed) and my mind is full of negative thoughts. These thoughts are so powerful, that it causes me too dread the first moments of my day. Many times I given into these thoughts not because I believe them, rather because I am so beaten down by life that I do not want to fight anymore. The Lord is telling me to fight but how can I when I barely can get out of bed each day?
Having no job is hell. As a man this is a severe blow to my pride. By evolution I am hard wired to be a hunter gatherer. If I can't gather my prey then I am failing at the most basic job as a man. I know that there are certain extenuating circumstances in my case such as an economic recession and being a recent college graduate. Still it is difficult to find meaning when I can't accomplish this basic task. How I can I keep plowing forward when when there is nothing to look forward to? The answer is I must pray more earnestly for the virtue of hope, that sacred, lofty ability to keep plowing forward when life threatens to keep me down. The good news is that the Lord understands my struggle intimately even if I think that he has abandoned me. The Lord knows acutely the pain of abandonment. He is there with me even if emotionally I don't feel it. The even greater news is that the Lord doesn't even expect me to fight on my own. He is willing to fight for me; all I have to do is keep getting up each day, plowing forward and he will do the do the rest. Easier said then done. After all I am human and there is only so much that I can take.
In the Old Testament God makes it abundantly clear the dangers of looking back. In the book of Genesis God turns Lot's wife into a pillar of salt because she disobeyed his command. (cf. Gen 19:26) In the New Testament St. Paul mentions several times in his writings that the disciple must keep plowing forward as he says in his letter to the Philippians "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3: 14) and in his second letter to the Corinthians, "Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come." (2 Cor 5: 17)
The message is simple we must all keep plowing forward even if everything around us is falling apart.