All of us have experienced times of discouragement, times when we feel that all in the world has turned against us. Our intentions are misunderstood, our words are misinterpreted, our suggestions are ignored, and our offers of help are met with rejection. As a result, we begin to feel marginalized and unappreciated, and became very dejected.
Perhaps no man in all of scripture understood these feelings as did the blessed Job. Once the “richest man in the East” (1.3), he was so tested by the reverses of his life that he cried out to God “O God, put a curse on the day I was born; put a curse on the night when I was conceived!” (3:2-3). And yet, Job’s abiding faith in the ultimate goodness of God gave him courage and hope, even in the darkest moments of his affliction. From the depths of his sorrow, he was able to confidently declare, “I knew that there is someone in heaven who will come at last to my defense. Even after my skin is eaten by disease, while still in this body I will see God. I will see him with my own eyes, and he will not be a stranger to me.” (19:25-27). And Job’s faith was rewarded for “the Lord blessed the last part of Job’s life even more than he had blessed the first…And he died at a very great age.” (42:2;17).
St. Paul, like all of the prophets and apostles before him, also knew rejection and hostility. And yet he, too, persevered by keeping before him the example of our Savior and all his saints, and admonished us to do the same. “Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus ….think of what he went through; how he put up with so much hatred for sinners! So do not let yourselves become discouraged and give up…lift up your tired hands, then, and strengthen your trembling knees!” (Hebrews 11:12).
Through those words, St. Paul tells us how our Lord faced hostility, humiliation and great suffering. He urges us to consider the Savior’s example. Seeing how he endured opposition and cruel mistreatment for our sake will help to put our own meager problems into proper perspective. Strengthened in this way by these examples, we, too, can find a cure for a weary heart.
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