This is the first opportunity I’ve had to preach on the ongoing reading of the book of Job this week. I have to admit that the book of Job disturbs me all the time, just because of the seeming unfairness of it. The whole idea of Job being a pawn in the ongoing contest between God and Satan is disturbing. But I know that I need to bracket that, because that’s not the point of the book of Job. The book of Job should rather be a textbook of the spiritual life.
Put yourself in Job’s position. Everything he’s ever cared about is gone. His possessions, flocks, livelihood, all of his children, gone in an instant. In that kind of situation, I don’t think any of us would think ill of him for being sad, depressed, even angry. Those reactions are absolutely natural, I think. And to be fair, he did go through those, I think, but I guess what really impresses me is that through it all, there was still that faith, a faith that is almost hard to understand. Listen to his words again from today’s first reading:
But as for me, I know that my Vindicator lives,
and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust;
Whom I myself shall see:
my own eyes, not another’s, shall behold him,
And from my flesh I shall see God;
my inmost being is consumed with longing.
These words are a common reading for a funeral Liturgy, and they of course are the source for the hymn, “I Know that My Redeemer Lives.” They provide a great deal of consolation for all of us who have to go through trials and grief. We may never be tested the way Job was tested – at least we hope not! – but our own trials and grief are every bit as valid and heartbreaking. So we will often be faced with the same decision that Job had to make. Will we give in to the sadness, anger, grief and pain, or will we remember that our Vindicator lives? Will we cling to the hope that we will see God, or will we turn away from our faith? In our grief and pain, it’s often hard to consume ourselves with longing for God, but that’s exactly what we are called to do, what Job did in his own grief.
In our darkest moments, may we all cling to the hope of one day seeing our Vindicator face to face.