As iron is fashioned by fire and on the anvil, so in the fire of suffering and under the weight of trials, our souls receive that form which our Lord desires them to have.--St. Madeline Sophie Barat
( Job 7:1-4, 6-7)
Job spoke, saying:
Is not man's life on earth a drudgery?
Are not his days those of hirelings?
He is a slave who longs for the shade,
a hireling who waits for his wages.
So I have been assigned months of misery,
and troubled nights have been allotted to me.
If in bed I say, "When shall I arise?"
then the night drags on;
I am filled with restlessness until the dawn.
My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle;
they come to an end without hope.
Remember that my life is like the wind;
I shall not see happiness again.
Job, in our Reading today , has had a hard time of it. He is experiencing the crucible of fidelity. The Devil kind of makes a bet with God that if Job is squeezed enough he will cry out in some way of disbelief. The devil says that Job is a man of faith, because he has everything in hand and within his control. In Job’s reaction to his suffering, we hear a most natural response to the questions which suffering can create. Job asks the usual questions about the meaning of life. We hear two such questions and then his tormented musings about the meaning of his personal life and that of all humankind.
Job has been laid low by the hand of God. His family, his possessions and even his own physical well being have been removed. He is struggling to stay faithful. He is a most conventional or usual human being. These lines are his answers which are being wrenched from his mouth by the twistings of his body and soul. He has lost everything except some trust in the value of life, but very little at that. His “ouch” we all know in our own lives.
Most people can relate to Job, for they have endured tragedies, deaths in their families, sicknesses, pain, and sufferings. Even those who have so far had easier lives know that life can be, and almost inevitably will be, hard. We all have the question of Job: "Is not man's life on earth a drudgery?" We feel as if we "have been assigned months of misery" (Jb 7:3). Our days and nights drag on ever so slowly (Jb 7:4), while at the same time life passes all too quickly (Jb 7:6-7).
God's plan is not to spare us from difficult times; His plan is to be with us in our difficulties. God sent His only Son Jesus, Who is called "Emmanuel, a name which means 'God is with us' " (Mt 1:23). The true test of a Christian comes in the crosses of our lives. Our actions in times of distress tell God whether we want Jesus with us or whether we just want to be spared adversity.
If we know Jesus is with us, we can face adversity with hope and even joy. Job looked up to heaven in his misery and saw the Lord for himself (Jb 42:5). Knowing God was with him made all the difference for Job.
Know Jesus; know hope. No Jesus; no hope. "Fix your eyes on Jesus" (Heb 3:1), the only Hope you need.