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When Job’s three girls and seven boys were tragically killed, when his house collapsed, when his livestock perished in a fire when sores broke out over his body, it is said that he sat on a pile of manure and ash. It expressed well what he felt. He lost his future. He still had his wife. To make some sense of the enormous loss she asked him, What did you do against God to deserve all of this?” “Nothing,” he said. “I am your wife you can tell me. What did you do wrong,” she asked. “I didn’t do anything,” he answered. “Well,” she said, “curse God and die.” The proportions of her reasoning are 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 John-Paul Sartre and other philosophers experienced chaos and suffering during World War II, it didn’t lead them to faith. It led them to believe that there is no God.

But Job decided against his wife’s judgment. He decided against his three friends. Job did not side with his own feelings and deep disappointment. After the opinions, judgments, feelings, Job stood with God. 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 Job. What do we see in Job? Job gives a new definition to Good. We know 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 what the Bible meant by future hope. In 1976, 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 stood with God. There is something about being in God’s presence when you have nothing. He explained to us students that is what the biblical notion of hope means. The Israelites, when they were in the presence of God, they knew that they would not be captive forever. They know they would not be in the desert forever, and they knew that their destroyed Jerusalem would be rebuilt. Even in the New Testament, the blind man must have known when he was in the presence of Jesus that he would not be blind forever. Even my professor had another son and received tenure at a more prestigious university: Princeton. Job did not remain empty. God took care of him. There are times when we are down, but God is always more powerful than a bad day, bad news, or bad diagnosis. Stay with God no matter how hard it gets, and you will always have hope.

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