Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
Wishing to always bring something helpful, inspiring, and spiritually profitable to you I seek God's guidance to accomplish it every day. I know the challenges all of you face daily and your personal suffering, stress and struggle and want to bring you by the grace of God His encouragement and divine comfort and hope.
Lately I have had the inclination to bring you the Biblical story of Saint Job the Righteous who suffered patiently, with faith, trust and patience. How he remained faithful to God throughout his trials and how he was rewarded at the end by our Almighty God.
Studying the Sacred Scripture is so important and necessary that Saint John Chrysostom said that one cannot be saved who does not study the Scriptures. How can a Christian be a Christian if he/she has never read the Divinely inspired Scripture? It is the soul and heart of our Orthodox Christian faith!
"How long will You torment me and crush me with words? Ten times now you have reproached me; shamelessly you attack me. If it is true that I have gone astray, my error remains my concern alone. If indeed you would exalt yourselves above me and use my humiliation against me, then know that God has troubled me and raised His stronghold against me." (Job 19:2-6)
Orthodox Biblical Commentary: 1:1) "Job was originally called Jobab (42:19). Thanks to the Septuagint text he is no longer the mystery man "from the land of Uz." He is from "land of Ausitis, which was located on the borders of Edom and Arabia (42:19). He is also a descendant of Abraham through Esau, and his first wife was an Arab (42:20). This makes him a Gentile, and Esau the unbeliever was his forefather. Saint John Chrysostom, quoting Eccl. 7:21, notes that the text qualifies Job as "blameless, that is, "just" (δίκαιος), but that it did not say, "without sin." Only Jesus Christ was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
1:6) Heaven is inaccessible to the devil; yet he came with them because he is an angel with a nature similar to the Angels of God. However, writes Saint Gregory, "He was in the Lord's sight, but the Lord was not in his sight. When a blind man stands in the sun, he is bathed with the sun's rays, but he still does not see the light by which he is lit." And Saint John Chrysostom teaches that "he came with them" means nothing else but that [the devil] too is dependent upon God."
1:7) The devil accuses the righteous before God "day and night" (Rev. 12:10). With God's permission, he pummels our minds with evil thoughts and weakens our bodies with pain and illness, ever seeking to influence us towards evil. But through hardship, the righteous are clothed in the "whole armor of God" (Ephesians 6:13). We are called to "glory in tribulations" (Romans 5:3), knowing that we are to walk in obedience to Christ's Commands (St. Matthew 5:10).
1:10-12) Saint John Chrysostom remarks that Satan's will is his own, but he derives his power from God, Who does not allow him to act except with justice. He cannot bring harm to the faithful and even profits those who wage war against him, "for tribulation makes the strong man stronger". Jesus conversed with evil spirits and even granted their requests to be sent into a great herd of swine (St. Luke 8:32-33).
1:13) Saint Gregory compares the "elder brother", to the Jews, and the rest of Job's sons and daughters to the Gentiles. The collapse of the house (v. 19) point to the Final Judgment, when we will either be crushed by Christ the Rock or take refuge in Him (see St. Luke 17:26-30).
1:20) Job did these acts i.e., "tore his robe, and shaved off the hair of his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped, saying, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return". According to Saint Hesychius, less as a sign of mourning than to get rid of what possessions were left with him thus leaving the enemy (Satan) no means by which he could further test him. He wanted to strip down, nude to nude, with his enemy, and "he fell to the ground" to humble himself before God."
1:22) Job did not "charge God" with injustice for the evils that had befallen him (see Psalm 22:2). "It is not the events, but the perversity of thoughts that makes us suspect God of meanness".
2:2) Saint Gregory comments that since the devil has already been defeated, the Lord is chiding him for the impotence of his pride. Saint Hesychius teaches that the devil cannot even speak without first receiving permission from God.
2:4) The devil was unable to understand how Job could seek salvation over saving his own "skin"--that is, his life.
2:7) Saint Gregory remarks that from the beginning, Satan has been working to destroy the Body of Christ (The Church) inflicting wounds on God's people throughout the history of the Jews, and continuing in his fury until he came to the very Head of the Church, Christ.
2:8) Job in his misery is an image of Christ on the Cross. He came "in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh" (Romans 8:3). "With a shard, therefore, the pus is scraped, when sin is defeated by the flesh". Saint Gregory also notes that the repentant sinner, like Job, looks "unflinchingly upon the stains of sin by which he is covered."
2:9) Saint Hesychius teaches that Satan "recruited" Job's wife, as he had done with Eve. Saint John Chrysostom asks, "What are you saying, woman? When God needs to be...propitiated, you are, rather, preparing to provoke Him! For if it is God Who has caused these bad things, He needs to be invoked, not blasphemed." And Jesus said, "he who endures to the end will be saved" (St. Matthew 10:22).
The above commentary serves as an Introduction to the Book of Job in the Old Testament.
SUFFERINGS ARE A MEDICINE
(Source: Orthodox Word)
Sufferings are bitter medicines with blessed effects. They cure our various sins, especially pride, and humble us. When the doctor treats a sick person, he does not give him sweet dainties, but medicines which are usually bitter. If the sick person is wise, he accepts these bitter drugs with gratitude and without grumbling, knowing that they will cure him. Only foolish children make faces and do not want to drink the saving medicines because they are bitter to the tongue! How much we resemble foolish children when we grumble against the sufferings and sorrows in life which God sends to us! In our times of deepest grief, we must remember Righteous Job who suffered without guilt and, despite that, accepted all misfortunes which piled upon him without grumbling and blaspheming. He lost his property, his herds, his servants, and even his children. One after the other came the messages which informed him of the woes which had come upon him. And receiving every tragic piece of news, he only repeated the wonderful words: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this, Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly" (Job 1:21-22).
PATIENCE IN THE END
Through his sufferings, Job received salvation. However, not all suffering is beneficial to the soul and elevates it, taking it into the Heavenly Kingdom. It is only that suffering which is endured patiently, with gratitude and trust in God, and without grumbling. Those who suffer must have great patience, so that they will be able to see how the bitter green buds on the branches of the virtuous life slowly and gradually, under the care of the warm Sun of righteousness, ripen and turn into sweet fruits of perfection and salvation. Those who suffer must have great patience lest they despair and, because of their impatience, the fruits fall before their due time--sour, bitter, and green. In such a case their suffering is in vain. Only "he that shall endure unto the end shall be saved" (St. Matthew 24:13). According to the teaching of Saint Ephraim the Syrian, "The Christian must stand among the various sorrows and temptations like an anvil which, even though it is constantly hammered upon, does not move from its place, nor does it get ruined, but stays the same [as firm as it was in the beginning]."
We cannot be saved without suffering; how else could we be tested by God for being firm and unwavering in virtue? God arranges many things in life in such a way that man is tempted, so that his free will can be manifested, and he, through enduring of all trials, can receive salvation. "Because those," according to the words of Saint Macarius the Great, "who live in suffering and temptations and endure to the end will not lose the Kingdom of Heaven."
It is told about a Saint that he, like the Holy Apostle Paul, was seized and taken to Heaven where he saw the bright homes of the righteous. He stopped in front of a wondrous palace in which a righteous and blissful soul was shining, and he asked: "What were you on earth?" "I was a leper, and I constantly thanked God for that mercy." Such are the fruits of the sufferings which are borne with gratitude and without grumbling.
(To be continued)
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God