Today, when we read or hear about more job losses in the news, organizational leaders often use the word “furlough.” The concept was common for the military to describe a short period of “time off” where soldiers could rest before returning to action.
Now, “furlough” is intended to mean a temporary job loss. Being laid off, which used to mean temporary, now means permanent job loss.
In the news, leaders say things like, “They are only on furlough,” or, “They’ve been furloughed until …”
It is as if by using a nicer word—furlough—it changes the impact on the person. It’s not a real job loss because they’ve only been “furloughed.”
Wrong! “Furlough” is just another word for “job loss!”
Everyone, please understand something. The person who has been furloughed doesn’t have a job! There’s no work, no income, and that person has no guarantee of if or when they will return to work.
That puts them on an emotional roller coaster, with some wondering where God is in all of this.
Individuals on furlough will feel many of the same emotions experienced by someone who knows their job loss is permanent. They aren’t immune from those emotions, but will experience:
- Fear & Worry– Life is no less uncertain for those who are furloughed. They worry about how they will survive this temporary loss of income and how to pay their bills. They won’t stop wondering about the future either. What happens if the furlough is extended a lot longer, or they don’t get called back to work?
- Anger– Those on furlough suddenly don’t have a job, a decision they didn’t make. They may be angry at their circumstances generally, or they may direct that anger at the organization. Besides, the company chose to furlough them instead of someone else.
- Despair – Today, everyone is experiencing despair, no matter how emotionally strong they are. Furloughed individuals will experience despair, too, wondering when this will end. They will feel out of control.
- Conflict with Time – When working, there is never enough time. Now there’s too much! How do furloughed employees find peace in balancing their activities? They may also wonder if they should look for a job. What happens if they don’t get called back to work? Will they have wasted their time off not looking for a job?
- Self-Confidence– Furloughed workers aren’t using their skills. And those who spend any time listening to the dialogue about what our world will look like after quarantine may feel discouraged. They’ll ask, “Will my skills still be a fit for my company or another company? Will I need new skills, and can I learn them? Will I need to reinvent myself entirely?” Those questions can impact a person’s self-confidence.
There is good news in all of this. Look at what the Lord says: Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10, ESV).
You see, God knows we will have difficult times in our lives. He promises to be with us during a furlough, being laid off, having a job eliminated, or even when we are frightened at our world.
God is with us always!