Out all of the letters I received in response to my piece about my plight with student loans the one that stuck out most was from a reader who noted that I neglected to mention how faith helped me deal with my circumstances.
I tend to keep my faith private, but for many Americans there’s no greater time to be more open about discussions of faith, doubt, and deliverance from what’s ailing them than now.
Recently CNN Money spotlighted three families of separate faiths and how each grapples with faith and fiances.
This piece focused on issues like keeping up with the cost of going kosher, violating the Qu’ran’s prohibition of paying or receiving riba (interest), and aversions to wealth.
While each topic is certainly interesting, I’m curious to know more about a subject closer to issue of faith itself: Have the tough economy times made it harder to still believe?
One reader wrote a heart wrenching letter detailing how her husband’s job loss and her cut in work hours have left them hungry, disillusioned, and nearly hopeless.
Still, despite her hardships she continues to pray to that things get better.
Here’s her story:
“My husband was laid off from his job as a retail store manager last year. We had no cause for worry because he had plenty of experience and we both figured he was an excellent candidate for any company. We were wrong. Over night it seemed no one was hiring. He was an optimist and put out what must have been 100 resumes in the area.
He filed for unemployment for the first time in his life after no companies called back within weeks. It got a lot worse over the next few months. We couldn't pay our bills and had no food in the house.
We would both cry ourselves to sleep sometimes. Eventually he was stuck at the house unable to pursue other job leads because we had zero money for gas. I continued working the 20 hours a week that my company was able to give me under the constant reminder that I could be without a job any moment.
We were lucky that his parents are financially sound because without them helping us with mortgage payments and other important bills we
would have surely lost everything we have worked for in the last 10 years of our lives.
My husband ultimately starting working for the U.S. Census Bureau, but that position only lasted for 3 months so he has to once again rely on unemployment for money. We have sacrificed our old way of living and now we eat very little food to save money.
We almost always have some kind of rice to keep our stomachs full. We have not turned our central air on in over 3 months to save money, but the power companies rates have shot through the roof so it almost doesn't help. We never turn any lights on while the sun is out. We are praying that maybe I will get more hours at work or he will find steady employment soon.
I am sure most people have been through worst, but this last year has been the most stressful, hurtful, and depressing year of our lives. It's as if our lives are frozen in place and we are just waiting for something to let us move forward again. I often ponder why power costs have risen, gas prices are rising, credit card companies are raising rates, but I still make $7.21 an hour.
People like you and I make this country work. We are the consumers, we are the workers, but we are being strangled to death by the debt this country has accumulated. Only time will tell when things get better for all of us.”
Although most are aware that it will take a while to repair the economy, lack of opportunities are making those already suffering grow even more impatient.
As important as it is to maintain some sense of optimism, does it ever become too much to bear, and thus give way to doubt?
Has your faith been shaken because of this recession or has it only gotten stronger?
I’d like to hear from you.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.