Bad Economic Times, Good for Hope

Bad Economic Times, Good for Hope

With the U.S. unemployment rate still high at 7.3 percent (13 percent for blacks), financial struggles continue for many. The Great Recession that began in 2007 may technically be over, but the federal government sequestration and the shutdown that furloughed hundreds of workers, has many people losing hope in the slow economic recovery. But it is times like these that you have to trust God even more for a better future. Getting your mind right is the key.

Like a friend who is now a very successful store owner. She shared with me that financial troubles almost caused her to give up on her business before the breakthrough came. She opened her retail store after the 9/11 tragedy, which triggered economic gloom in 2001. That downturn caused the company that she was working for at that time to eliminate her position after nearly 20 years of loyal service. Though it was shocking to be called to the human resources office, handed a manila folder, and told that she no longer had a job, it was also a relief. For years, God had been showing her in dreams that she would be running not one, but many successful thrift stores. In the dreams, she clearly saw the store’s light purple and blue walls with gold trim, she said. She saw clothing on the racks and the furniture where customers would sit in between browsing and trying on clothing. She used the severance package from her former job as seed money to plant the business she would nurture for God. Friends and family told her she was crazy to attempt to open a door during an economic downturn. Sometimes it’s good to be hard-headed.

After opening the thrift store in the city’s downtown section, foot traffic was excellent for the first few weeks. But then fewer people came into the store. This went on for months. She began to worry about paying bills and salaries. Then, one day in a moment of particular weakness, she shared her concerns with her assistant manager. The assistant manager prayed with her and then went back to work. Then while routinely checking the pockets of clothing before putting them on the racks, the assistant manager found two dimes. She took the dimes to the store owner and said, “You see, God will provide. We just have to trust him.” They both laughed, but they also knew that the statement was true.  My friend is now planning to open a second store.

Troubling times can feed hopelessness, but trouble can also be ripe for opportunities, whether it’s opening your own business or starting a new career. For example, the Affordable Care Act was lauchned amid the headlines about the financial impact of Washington’s gridlock over the federal budget. The ACA, also known as Obamacare, began open enrollment on Oct. 1 at www.healthcare.gov and on websites of states that have their own health insurance marketplaces. I did a presentation at a Celebrate Healthcare event in Hampton, Va., where individuals were able to enroll with help. I talked about repositioning yourself for healthcare jobs.

Healthcare jobs are among the top fasted growing industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When people think of working in healthcare, they typically see the clinical side – being a doctor or nurse and the number of years and costs of schooling required. But there are several non-clinical jobs or careers in the area of healthcare management because healthcare is ultimately a business. For example, there will be a growing need for people who have skills in communications, or data entry, or accounting. Positions in sales and management are growing. As evidenced by the massive technical problems with the enrollment website, information technology experts will become more vital. People who are unemployed or looking to make a career change can transfer skills from their current fields to fill health care industry jobs.  They just have to be willing to see the opportunities and do what it takes to reposition – whether it’s additional training, or researching health insurance companies or networking with people who are already where you want to be.

Tough financial times also mean opportunities for breakthroughs. It’s all in how you choose to look at it. You can choose hope and to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.”