The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its September Employment Situation Report. Nonfarm payrolls fell 33,000, compared to an increase of 169,000 in August and pre-report expectations of 95,000). This was the first time payrolls were negative since Sept. 2010. Private payrolls fell 40,000 for the month (versus 164,000 in August; 115,000 forecast). The leisure and hospitality sector was hit particularly hard, as it lost a seasonally adjusted 111,000.
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were responsible for most, if not all, of the decline. To be considered employed, those surveyed needed to have worked during the Sept. 12 pay period. Harvey made landfall in Texas on Aug. 25, and Irma hit Florida beginning Sept. 10. The September report is likely to be revised, perhaps significantly, in October.
However, the report also had silver linings. The rate dropped to an unexpected 4.2 percent (4.4 percent in August). The participation rate (percent of civilian workers at least 16 years of age in the workforce) increased to 63.1 percent from 62.9 percent. Average hourly earnings increased at an annual rate of 2.9 percent (highest since the 2007 financial crisis), compared to an upwardly revised 2.7 percent in August.
The markets took the payroll drop in stride. After establishing an all-time high the previous day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average only fell 0.01 percent for the day. Investors were also focusing on the good in the report. The number of recent all-time highs are particularly impressive given the events in Las Vegas, geopolitical risks on the global stage and political problems in Washington.
For a Christian, every trial (tribulation, sufferings) has a silver lining, even if we don't recognize it immediately. Christians are not promised a life without trials. Christians are promised victory.
Paul tells us that trials (tribulation or sufferings) produce patience, which producers character, which produces a hope that does not disappoint. James tells that temptations (or trials) are allowed to try our faith. The trying of our faith producers a patience which can lead us toward perfection, complete and lacking nothing. Both writers emphasize that trials are not to be dreaded. We don't experience joy because of the trial, we experience joy because we know that we will eventually experience the victory; that nothing is impossible for the One in whom we trust. For the believer, He has a silver lining to every cloud in life.
Not only so, but we also boast in tribulation ("sufferings" in ESV and NIV), knowing that tribulation produces patience, patience produces character, and character produces hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Rom. 5:3-5).
My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations (or "trials" in ESV, NASB and NIV), knowing that the trying of your faith develops patience. But let patience perfect its work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4).
Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief. For truly I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it will move. And nothing will be impossible for you" (Matt. 17:20).
Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, sold as a slave, falsely accused and imprisoned. But God had a silver lining to his experiences that resulted in Joseph's promotion, which allowed him to save Egypt, his family and the nation of Israel. After 40 years of royalty, Moses was tried as a shepherd for 40 years. God had other plans and used the octogenarian to deliver an entire people and lead them to the promised land. Lazarus was dead for four days. But God wasn't finished. The Samaritan woman had been married five times and was living with a man who was not her husband. But Jesus announced that He was the Messiah, and she brought an entire city to hear him.
Our God loves us more than we can comprehend. God is in control. He is not surprised. Regardless of the circumstance, He can and will change it for good; everything has a silver lining.
"We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28).
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University.
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