I talked with a man who was fired from his job in a public and painful way. This is what he said he learned from it.

1. The only answer to bitterness is forgiveness. Not surprisingly, the man felt like the firing had not been handled well. I say “not surprisingly” because firings are rarely handled well, especially from the standpoint of those being fired. Generally there are two choices for how it goes–bad and really bad. My friend’s experience was closer to the latter. “You have to forgive,” he said. But it isn’t easy nor does it come quickly. It takes time to let it all sink in, to work through your feelings, and to come to grips with what has happened. Over time you will either be destroyed by bitterness or you will come to the Christian position and find the grace to forgive as Christ has forgiven you. My friend is currently on this journey, and he is put to the test when people write emails or ask him questions about what happened. But because he knows that forgiveness is a choice and not a feeling, he has chosen to forgive and will be blessed and better for it. 

2. Thank God that you were fired. This goes in the category of “in everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Again, not easy to do. It all comes back to the sovereignty of God. Does you believe that God is at work even in the worst moments of life? Where was God when my friend was fired? He was where he always is, on the throne of the universe, overseeing the course of all events. My friend could not have been fired unless God had willed to permit it. This truth gives us strength to go on when we feel like giving up. Plus you learn who your friends are when you are fired. That’s always a revelation. Because people understand that “these things happen,” they watch to see how you respond. Your response matters more than the facts of the firing. Down the road you discover that almost everyone loses a job or is “replaced” or “dismissed” or “encouraged to move on.” God uses these events to prepare us for new things he has for us and to teach us to lessons we couldn’t learn any other way.

3. Remember that no one likes a whiner. When we have been mistreated, we want to tell others our story. And to some extent, we need to tell the story. But at some point you have to let go of the past. My friend’s advice is, tell the story enough so that you let it sink in. Tell it so that you learn whatever you need to learn. Then stop talking about it and move on. You can’t get better if you constantly relive the painful events of the past. Don’t be a whiner. “After a while, people will get bored with your story."

Good advice on all points because it comes from a bedrock faith in God. I think my friend is fine and will do fine. He has been knocked around, but he is far from being knocked out. We can all take a lesson from what he said. Learn to forgive, thank God for allowing this to happen, and don’t be a whiner. 

Many of us know the words of Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD." When George Muller of Bristol meditated on that verse, he jotted “and stops” into the margin of his Bible. So he read the passage this way: "The stepsand stops of a good man are ordered by the Lord.”

That strikes me as a true application of the text. The same God who orders our steps also orders the “stops” of life. If we believe that, our faith will stay strong even when we have been fired.  

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.