We all know a little of the story of Job from the Old Testament. He was a wealthy man with a large family, extensive flocks, and all of the earthly blessings one could ever yearn for. Additionally, Job was a man who lived an upright and blameless life and he loved the lord God with all his heart. Life was good for Job and God continued to bless him abundantly. All of this caught Satan’s attention – his jealous nature couldn’t stand seeing Job live with such love and abundance. After conversing with God, Satan was given permission to torment Job by taking everything away from him except his life. Satan desired to turn Job away from God with his torments.
THAT TRAGIC DAY
In just one day Job lost everything. His livestock, servants, and ten children all died. Then Job is afflicted with horrible skin sores, he was accused of committing sin that lead to his horrible pain, his children were accused of committing sin that lead to their death, and one of Job’s “friends” even goes on to say that Job surely must have done something that deserved greater punishment than he already received! Through it all Job continued to praise and honor God; however, at one point he broke down and lost his faith.
Life became too much for Job and he became fearful, sarcastic and impatient. He lamented that God allowed some wicked people to prosper while many innocents continued to suffer. He sought to converse with God only to experience the divine absence of God. Eventually a friend, Elihu, points out to Job that God communicates through pain. Yes, God was with him all along speaking to him through his deepest pain. Elihu shard with Job that this type of suffering reveals the power of God’s great love and forgiveness. Yet, Job couldn’t hear God – he was too brokenhearted.
At this point God interrupts Job’s life with a series of questions found in today’s first reading. The rhetorical questions were presented to reveal to Job just how little he understands God and his power. When it was time for Job to answer God, awe struck by the encounter, Job acknowledges his smallness next to God, stating he will “put his hand over my mouth”. He submitted, conceding to the limitations of his human wisdom.
ARE YOU LIKE JOB?
I assume since you are a human being you too have suffered – perhaps greatly. Maybe you have lost everything like Job. Maybe your friends and family have accused you unjustly like Job’s friends did. Yet maybe God is speaking to you like he spoke to Job. I too have had my own struggles in this lifetime and I have learned that through it all God has been there – even when I felt his divine absence.
I have shared a bit of my own struggle in my book, Understanding the Jesus Code. So please allow me to share with you an excerpt from it in today’s reflection. I hope it brings you some peace.
THE SPIRITUAL CRASH AND THE AMPLIFIER
Eventually, my desire for more happiness combined with my yearning to please God and help others merged together in my heart. This merging was the impetus for Joy of Raphael—a holistic wellness center I would own, manage, and practice at as a naturopathic doctor for six long years. There were many highs and lows with Joy of Raphael. In the end, I learned just how much God loves me. I began to understand that he is always near, always paying close attention to my needs, sufferings, and cries for help. Eventually, I reached out to him at my darkest moment with the business, and he rescued me. He would help me close the doors and find a new way.
Admittedly, I experienced some very nice moments of happiness with Joy of Raphael that were filled with hope; however, the majority of my experience of trying to run a successful business was heart-wrenching and debilitating. Out of the torment, I turned to God and began to surrender. I frequently attended weekday or “daily” Mass on my way to Joy of Raphael, in search of peace, and I found respite. Eventually, my desperation led me to the adoration chapel, where I would spend significant quiet time with Christ. While these visits were plagued with despondency, I can now see that God was sowing a seed within my heart. Instead of turning away from God, I ran blindly toward him during my time of brokenness. This was all he needed. This dark night of my soul would prove to be the foundation for a life I could never have imagined. I am convinced that it was my perseverance, my showing up for God in his church, and my consistent prayer life during this painful time that opened the door to what would happen next in my life.
God would send a powerful spiritual amplifier into my life, an amplifier that placed my spiritual journey into hyper-speed. An amplifier that came at a time when I was ridden with anxiety and depression and had found myself on the brink of near physical collapse as a result of stress. Yet God captured my heart and claimed me for himself. In return, I would eventually receive all the peace and happiness I could ever imagine. However, God had to allow me to pass through the trial first—I had to be refined like precious gold before his glory could manifest within my heart. Looking back, I know God not only rescued me, but he also drew me into him for a purpose. A purpose that springs forth from hope, the hope through Christ that is eternal.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.
—1 Peter 1:6-9
This amplification began when I started attending daily Mass in the most beautiful, quiet, and peaceful chapel, at my son’s high school, Brebeuf Jesuit in Indianapolis, Indiana. Even today when I step back into the space, my heart wells up. The attendance was small; sometimes it was just the priest and myself. Other times there were ten or so of us in attendance. Often, during these Masses, I experienced subtle tears of joy and release. Mass was sometimes celebrated with simple candlelight. Daily Mass was glorious, enchanting, and exquisitely otherworldly for me in this chapel. I found myself transcended time and time again. Sometimes I would find myself immersed within the priest’s homilies, where I would feel the palpable presence of Christ all around me. There was a beautiful bond enjoyed between those of us who regularly attended. And for the newcomers, we welcomed them with love and warmth. Even my youngest child, Christopher, a teenager and student at Brebeuf at the time, would attend with me on occasion. Mass attendance at Brebeuf was my first introduction to Ignatian spiritualty, and it would leave a lasting and permanent imprint on my heart and soul. I would never be the same after this.
I hope you find your way home towards Jesus Christ – the one who is love himself. May you experience love, forgiveness and mercy in this appointed time! – Carolyn
Sacred Heart of Jesus – have mercy on us.
Mother Mary – pray for us.
Saint Jerome – pray for us.
Today’s Readings Job 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5, Psalm 139; Luke 10:13-16