Thursday, September 26, 2013
THE VALUE OF PATIENCE(PART 3) by St. John Chrysostom
The greatest testimony of the magnificence of Job's patience comes from the devil himself. Do you remember the first dialogue he had with the Lord when Job was still living in prosperity? "Have you
noticed my servant Job," God asked Satan. "There is no one like him in the earth. He is a perfect and upright man; he fears Me, and he despises evil"
(Job 1:8). What did Satan respond arrogantly?
"Does Job perhaps fear You without a reason? Haven't You protected his house, and all that he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his flocks have multiplied in the land. But stretch Your hand and take away all that he has! Then
You will see that he will curse You to Your face!" (Job 1:9-11).
Do you see the shameless objection that the devil set forth when Job was carrying out so many good works? "Does he perhaps respect you without a
reward?" However, when the righteous man patiently endured these unheard-of misfortunes that came upon him, the devil covered his face in shame and made a run for it, unable to come up with any further argument or counter with even the slightest excuse.
Therefore, when you see a righteous person who has done many good things being tested by innumerable misfortunes, do not be surprised. And when you see someone else who gives alms and does other God-pleasing deeds falling into temptations and dangers, do not be scandalized. He hit the devil hard, and this is why the devil retaliated by tossing him into hardships. "Why does God allow such a thing to occur?" you may ask. The answer is: in order for the righteous man to receive more crowns and for the devil to receive more punishment. Of course, it is good when someone gives alms and struggles with zeal to execute virtue when everything is going his way. It is much greater, however, when someone continues to struggle with fervent zeal and remains unshaken in the face of misfortune. For this reason, just as a sinner will suffer worse punishment in the next life if he does not experience anything bad in this life, similarly the righteous person will enjoy greater honor and bliss in the next life when he endures various sorrows in this life.
Perhaps you will tell me that you live in perpetual poverty and misfortune. Well then, bring Job tο mind, this unshakable pillar of patience. Who ever ended up poorer than him? Even the poorest people find refuge and shelter somewhere; he, however, lived under the open sky. Even the poorest people have a piece of clothing to wear; he, however, was naked. Who ever experienced greater anguish? He had ten children, and he lost them all in a single moment! Who was ever plagued by a worse illness? His entire body became infested with parasites and filled with wounds. Despite the fact that each one of these hardships individually is difficult to endure, how did this man of steel shoulder all of them
simultaneously—especially without even a trace of
human support? You see, all of us have some person to encourage and console us in times of sorrow.
Job, however, had no one. On the contrary, he drank yet another bitter cup that contained the following:the betrayal of his friends; the ungratefulness of the people whom he had helped; the indignation and desperation of his wife; the
sneers and ridicule of his fellow citizens.If you consider all the above, you can begin to appreciate the grandeur of Job's soul; for having suffered more than any other person in the world, he said none of the things that usually come out of the mouth of faint-hearted souls. "Is this why I taught my children to be good and to fear God? So I can
be deprived of them unjustly with their untimely
death? Is this why I gave charity to the poor and
helped them in need? So I can lose all my belongings? Is this why I clothed the homeless and supported the sick? So I can end up sitting on a dunghill, naked and tormented by illness? This is how God decided to reward me for all the good
things I did?" Such statements did not slip out of Job's mouth. Instead of these words, he only uttered the following, which is more valuable than any other sacrifice: "The Lord gave me everything, and the Lord took it away. Blessed be His name!" (Job 1:21).
St. John Chrysostom