“There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” (Job 1:1) As his story is told, there are two times when God gives Satan the power to have his way with Job. Satan’s contention is that Job’s good character and faithfulness to God is the result of the blessings that God has bestowed on Job. God sees it otherwise. God seems to think that Job would “. . .fear God and turn away from evil” regardless of his circumstances.
Regardless of how we understand the way evil works in the world, there are times when it can seem that our circumstances are the result of something more than the random rain falling on the just and the unjust. When trial after trial follows difficulty after difficulty, one may well start to wonder if there is someone or something, maybe even Satan, that has been set free to create such trial and difficulty.
Before Job’s story ends he will have lost everything — his family, his wealth, his health. His friends will insist that he must have sinned in some terrible way to deserve such terrible suffering. His suffering will seem to him to be without end. He will be humiliated, cursing the day he was born and loathing his life. However, he does not abandon God, nor does God abandon him.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus speaks to those who, like Job, have suffered. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” These hold hope and promise for those who are suffering, though not in the way we might expect in our modern world where we have come to expect problems to be solved before they happen. The words that Christ speaks to us are deeper and more durable than any solution this world might offer to the burdens we bear and the trials we face. They speak to the solution beyond the solution this world provides for our problems, our broken parts, our significant losses. They speak of a relationship that is not bound by the time and the space of our living, though very near and real to us as we live our days. These words of Christ point us to a peace and contentment that can only be known when our lives are submitted to Him, to his Lordship, to his rule and reign in our lives. They make no sense apart from our submission to Him, apart from our casting our lives on His mercy, His hope, His saving grace, so that when we hear them they are in no way wishful thinking or a denial of the very real difficulties that are being faced, but they are a rich and sweet comfort.
Julian of Norwich, the 14th century Christian mystic, has perhaps said it best, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”