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When Job’s three girls and seven boys were tragically killed, when his house collapsed, when 15,000 animals comprising his livestock perished in a fire, when sores broke out over his body, it is said that he sat on a pile of cow manure and ash to express how he felt about his life. He lost his future. The only thing to remain was his wife. To make some sense of the enormous lose she asked her husband, “What did you do against God to deserve all of this? “Nothing,” he said. “I am your wife, you can tell me,” she responded. What did you do wrong?” “I didn’t do anything,” he answered. “Well,” she said, “curse God and die.” Needless to say, Job did not take her advice. The logic behind her reasoning is not that farfetched. She states the problem well. If we have a God of chaos, and he can’t protect the good from destruction, then there may as well be no God. When Jean-Paul Sartre and other philosophers experienced the chaos and suffering during World War II, it didn’t lead them to faith. It led them to believe that there is no God. “Don’t tell me that there is harmony, justice, and love in the world because I just lived through seven years of hell. Where is God if there is a God?” They state the problem well.
But Job decided against his wife’s judgment. He decided against his three friends. Job did not side with his feelings and deep disappointment. After the opinions, judgments, feelings, Job stood with God. Notice, when we have a really bad day, when we can say we had a terrible year, we do not go to Job’s wife for advice, and we do not normally take Jean-Paul Sartre’s books off the shelf to make sense of our life. We usually turn to the book of Job. What do we see in Job? We want to be wise like him. The job was a good man. But Job gives a new definition to Good. We always knew that good people share, good people are kind, they are generous, they forgive, and they are patient. But Job brings goodness to a new level. Good people hope in God.
My professor of Sacred Scripture explained to us students what the Bible meant by future hope. In 1970’s his only son, who had just turned six, was hit by a car on his way home from school and killed instantly. Three months later, he said he was denied tenure at the university where he had taught for seven years. He said he lost his family, and he lost his career. He remembered the sense of having lost his future. But he told us that he stood with God. There is something about being in God’s presence when you have nothing. The Israelites in Babylon, when they were in the presence of God, they knew that they would not be captive forever. The blind man must have known when he was with his God that he would not be blind forever. My professor was talking from experience. As grieving father, he knew that life was not over and that he would not cry forever. That is hope. When you have nothing, and you are in the presence of God.
Hopefully, the day will never come when we feel that we have lost everything. If, however, that day ever comes, we have an option. Stand by God and hope.Back to All Homilies