GOD AND HUMAN SUFFERING
I came forth from my mother's womb, and naked shall I go
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be
the name of the Lord
all this Job did not sin
Nomen Domini benedictus
the name of the Lord)
Children. House. Health. Good name. Property ... You name it, Job lost
it. Covered with boils
the sole of his foot to the crown of his head,
he sat upon the ashes he poured over his head and scraped himself with
a potsherd. Even his wife reviled him:
God and die.
Three friends came, barely recognizing Job, and sat a week with him
in silence. They then proceeded to console Job by convicting him of
Finally, Job himself uttered what we all have uttered at one time or
another in our lives:
did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb and expire?
Would that his nakedness had never been clothed in honor and
glory, for then, he could not know the pain of losing what he never
had. God had
a hedge about him and his house and all that he had, on every side.
The evil one knew
this, tore down the hedge, devastated the house, and tempted Job to
despair ... to give up on God.
And, yet ...
all this, Job did not sin.
Job was blameless before God.
We know Job.
been Job in one form or
We have been devastated,
deprived, lost our health, our jobs, our dignity, security, esteem ...
even our families.
How do we console ourselves? As Jobs
friends consoled him? By telling ourselves that it is, in sense,
just ... a justice we had somehow managed
to escape and that has ineluctably and finally caught up with us?
misfortunes were not just.
They were not
Even were justice
demanded of us for our sins and unlike Job, they are many it has
already been rendered, raised in all our ignominy heaped upon Christ
on the Cross.
Yes, God is just! But it was God Himself who paid the price of justice
in the shattered humanity of Christ. He did not and He does not
exact it from us. We are far too poor to pay.
God Himself rendered
justice to God!
So what of Job?
What of us?
You came into
this world with nothing. You will leave it with nothing. You think you
have worked for, earned, all the good things you enjoy,
and reckon the day they will be taken from you, injustice. Injustice
was never done you, for you never deserved them. What, then,
of all your hard work and sweat?
Have you worked harder, more diligently, more desperately, than the
poverty stricken farmer in Africa? Why is he not adorned as you? Why
is his plate empty?
If you posses power, wealth, esteem, glory, in this world, do not congratulate
yourself on your diligence, your
and success. It is more appropriate to tremble.
And also behold
Christ, Christ Who was also tempted by that
same evil one who, in his empty promise, is frightfully revealing:
the devil took Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of
the world in a moment of time, and said to Him, "To you
I will give all, this authority and their glory;
for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom
Ask yourself soberly:
whence your prosperity, your power, your wealth? From whom and to what
end? And over the dignity of how many people did you acquire it?
Job he tempted to despair in having lost all that was not
his to begin with.
Christ he tempted
to idolatry by emptily promising to give Him what was
already His to begin with.
Who said that wealth, prosperity, power was
his to give? And who was it that took it away from Job what was his
to give and his to take?
Misfortunes are not from God. Nor are they the penalty
of your sins (for you would have nothing now, would you?)
Misfortunes, suffering, want, pain, destitution, illness, are evils
out of which God ever brings good ... as He did to Job who
all this did not sin.
May we do likewise in the face of misfortune, knowing the ever redemptive
love of God lifting us up to holiness, before the relentless malice
that would pull us down to despair.
The house that God has prepared for you will not collapse. Let us put
our treasures there and know our own nakedness.
II: The Suffering Servant