If you’re old enough, today’s passage from Job evokes an episode in life that devastated you.
Maybe you are enduring such a passage now. No one gets through life without a few periods so painful that, like Job, you wonder why you were born.
If you are fortunate, you emerge deeper, wiser and a better person. As one of my favorite spiritual writers, the psychologist Eugene Kennedy writes, “No one likes suffering but it breaks us open to become more human.”
Today’s reading from Job touches us because it doesn’t sugarcoat misery or pretend it is anything but awful.
However, during a trip through such a life passage, I thought a lot about the Resurrection. It gave me hope. Even as I tried to make sense of what was happening, I believed I would eventually emerge to a new and hopefully better life. I was blessed because I did but not everyone is so fortunate. Job retains its power because the story doesn’t sugarcoat human misery or pretend there is always a happy ending.
However, if we believe in the Resurrection, we can at least battle the temptation to despair.
On the night that Martin Luther King was killed, Robert Kennedy gave perhaps the most moving speech of his career when he announced the murder to a crowd in the ghetto of Indianapolis. In it, he quoted a passage from Aeschylus that I cling to in dark times:
“In our sleep pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will come wisdom through the awful grace of God.”
Somehow even when things are at their hardest, we must retain our faith in that “awful grace of God.”
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