Then Job began to tear his cloak and cut off his hair.
He cast himself prostrate upon the ground, and said,
“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I go back again.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD!”
How many of us would have the resilience of Job, to mourn the loss of family, friends, and possessions while continuing to kneel before the Lord and bless His Name? Sometimes it is difficult to accept even small disappointments, let alone great tragedy and loss. But the wisdom of Job lies in understanding that we don’t truly possess anything in this world; everything is a gift from God, and we cannot cling to what is fleeting. We must place our trust, first and foremost, in God alone, the only firm ground we have to stand on.
This reading reminds me of Fr. James Brent’s talk during last weekend’s retreat. He told us to ask ourselves: Are we using the things in our lives in order to love? They are God’s things for us to use, to grow in love. If we consider ourselves truly in possession of anything, if we forget that all the blessings in our lives are granted only by God’s providence, then really it is our possessions that have control of us. We cannot allow worldly attachments to entangle our hearts and hold them back from that first, essential purpose.
Amidst the clamor of voices that tell us otherwise, we must seek out God in prayer to gain peace and trust through our trials. We need to enter into silence in order to hear God speaking to our hearts. When we remove ourselves from the voices of materialism, egoism, and vanity, we can hear the truth: God is greater than every difficulty we will face, every disappointment, every tragedy, every tear we shed. We can pour out our grief to Him while continuing to trust that all things will work together for good in His timing.
Image: Ephraim Moshe Lilien, Job’s lamentation / PD-US