Almost two millennia before Christ lived a wealthy man who was respected for his piety and faith in God. When he reached the age of seventy-nine, God permitted a number of trials and tribulations to befall him. In one day he lost all his possessions and his children. He became ill and his body suffered great afflictions. He was tempted by Satan, but through all the trials and tribulations he remained steadfast in faith and obedience to God. The man’s name — JOB!
In the Old Testament we read about the life of Job in the book that is attributed to him. Job is the icon of patience and perseverance. We learn to deal with life’s many pressures by contemplating the experiences of Job. We recognize a man who stays focused on God rather than on his own suffering. He does not turn away in moments of weakness but endures the struggles of life. Job’s integrity as a faithful steward of God remains intact.
The Fathers of the Church call Job "a true man" who was "patient" with God. They speak of the sufferings of Job as being illogical according to human reasoning but comprehend this in the respect and faith given to God’s wisdom. St. John Chrysostom writes: "…Job had a zeal for sincere actions; that is why the text says he was ‘godly and true’."
If we believe that we come into the world with nothing and leave this world with nothing, then we must admit that all we have during our lifetime belongs to someone else who entrusted it to us to manage to the best of our ability. That somebody is God to Whom everything belongs!
When Job had been stripped of his family, his position, and his possessions, he did not choose to blame God, but said: "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21). Job believed that it was God Who took all these things away from him. Rather than challenging God by desiring to know the reason why all this has befallen him, he thanks God and praises Him: "…blessed be the name of the Lord". This is his consolation — it was as the Lord had willed! St. John Chrysostom explains: "Why has He decided it in this way?…When He made me rich, I did not seek to know why He had given me riches, and I no more seek to know now why He has taken them away from me. For did He give them to me because I deserved them? Did I receive them in exchange for my good actions then? He had decided to give, and He did it; He has decided to take back, and He has done it. It is the sign of a godly spirit to entrust everything to the will of God and to ask for neither an accounting nor explanations."
The Book of Job deals with our relationship with God. It puts life into a perspective that is of paramount importance for the Christian Orthodox steward. When we think that everything we possess in this world is our treasure, we just need to turn to Job to realize that this life is temporal, and it is life eternal that we must seek. Job distinguishes himself by his patience, love, and trust in our Heavenly Father. Read the Book of Job and learn how he faced many of the same issues we deal with today. As St. Hesychius wrote concerning Job: "Only patience can save — only she can fulfill the pressing need; it is with help that we re-establish the righteousness of the soul and of thoughts. Because she is the turnkey for the kingdom of heaven; she has also established the gateway to it according to the words of Paul: ‘pursue what is good…,rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks’ (1 Thessalonians 5:15-18)."
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