In the three year cycle of readings that we get for Sunday Mass – there is only one other time besides today – that we read from the Book of Job.
This summer, on the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time – we will read 4 short verses of Job – today it is a whopping 5 – and yet the book of Job in the Old Testament is 42 Chapters long!
Our reading today is taken from chapter 7 – about the time things begin to turn sour for Job:
“I have been assigned months of misery. I am filled with restlessness until the dawn. I shall not see happiness again.” Job says.
Rabbi Harold Kushner based his book: Why do bad things happen to good People, on the book of Job and says 30 years after its publication, he still hears from people who wonder where God was when they needed him the most . . .
This is Matthew’s condensed story of Job--- to help us understand the answer to that question when we are wondering the same thing.
There was a rich man named Job – who lived in the land of Uz in Israel. Job was a good man. He always put God first in his life.
One day when God was talking with his angels, Satan dropped by. God asked Satan: “Have you ever seen such a good man as my servant, Job?”
Satan liked to argue with God and said: “Anyone can be good when they have everything a person could want. . . Job has a home, family, cattle, and great wealth.
Besides all that, you don’t let anything harm him. Job doesn’t have a clue what it is like to be miserable. If he did, he would be no friend of yours!”
So satan asked God, “Hey, let me prove to you that Job will be a big cry baby and start saying bad things about you the minute something goes wrong.”
Since God was convinced that NOTHING would stop Job from loving and honoring him – God replied: “Okay, but I know Job will always be faithful to me – do what you want – just don’t hurt him.”
So satan rubbed his hands together and said – “Yes, I am out to get Job. . .” And so it began.
Meanwhile, Job was sitting quietly, when one of his servants came running up to him and said:
“My master, some men from out of the desert came and killed all of your servants – and they drove away all your cattle – I alone survived the tragedy.”
While this servant was speaking, another man came rushing up to Job and said: “Master, you will never believe it! All of your shepherds and sheep were struck by lightning and killed – I alone survived the tragedy.”
Yet another man came running and yelling, “Sir, three bands of enemies have stolen all your camels and killed the camel drivers – I alone survived the tragedy.”
Finally the last messenger arrived crying, “Oh no, Job, all your children have been killed. A giant wind blew the house down on them – I alone survived the tragedy.”
So in the course of one day, Job lost everything but his wife and his own life. Job went from being rich to being poor in just a few hours. . .
Did Job get angry with God? NO – he fell down on his knees and said to God: “With nothing I came into the world and with nothing I shall leave it. The Lord gave and now the Lord has taken away: Blessed be the name of the Lord!”
With all that went wrong, Job did not blame God or stop loving or trusting God. . .
And so God called to Satan: “See, you could not make Job turn from me! There is no man on earth more perfect than Job.”
But Satan said, “Trust me – if you let me hurt him, so that he is in great physical pain – he will start calling you names and lose his faith in you.”
God really did not want Satan to hurt Job – so he said: “Okay, you can make him uncomfortable – but that’s as far as you can go.”
So Satan immediately zapped Job with huge sores from his head to his feet. Job became very miserable – but he still did not blame God or say anything mean about God.
Job’s wife tried to convince him that he should curse God and just die – but Job could not do that. He loved God too much.
Job was beginning to wonder why God had allowed all of this to happen to him. But then he thought, God doesn’t just punish those who love him – there must be something God wanted him to learn from all of this. And so Job prayed that God would open his eyes to see the meaning of his sufferings. . .
It was then that God spoke directly to Job: “Can you begin to know my greatness?
Were you there when I created the world: the light, the sea, the stars, the earth and everything on the earth? Can you attempt to instruct me?”
Job got the message. He did not need to know WHY things happened, he just needed to keep trusting God and God’s love for him.
God then gave Job back his health, double his previous wealth, and blessed him with a long happy life.
And that’s the lesson of the book of Job – that no matter what happens to us – or happens around us --- we need only know that God is in charge – and then continue to trust in God – no matter what – which of course is more easily said than done. . .
Because even though we are not the God of the universe – had nothing to do with the creation of the earth and all that is on it –
we almost always think our way is better than God’s. . . And that’s the type of thinking that can get us to start questioning our faith and the power of God. . .
Every week, after the Our Father, we pray:
“Deliver us lord, we pray, from every evil. Graciously grant
peace in our days. That by the help of your mercy – we
may be always free from sin and safe from all distress – as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior: Jesus Christ.”
It is only when we place our trust in God alone – that Jesus will approach us – grasp our hand – and lift us up out of whatever misery has befallen us.
It is only when we place our trust in God alone – that we truly become good stewards – recognizing that everything we have is a gift – and are able to echo Job’s words: “With nothing I came into the world and with nothing I shall leave it. The Lord gave and the Lord can take away: Blessed by the name of the Lord!”
Moments in time...