By the Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald
The lament of Job is one of the great expositions of human suffering. It is a poem of pain so intense, so vivid, and so personal that his friends cannot bear to listen to it, as we will learn in the next chapters. The lament is still painful to read but, in our case, it is most likely due to our personal recognition of the sentiment. Anyone who has suffered intensely will identify with the feelings of Job. It is the cry of every person, at some point in their life. It is the cry of Jesus upon the cross.
Psalm 148 is welcome after Job’s cry of pain. It is also a reminder of the real dimensions of our relationship to Creation through the goodness of God. Even Job will eventually return to this at the end.
Also a welcome reminder, after Job, is the confidence that Paul expresses, even in the midst of pain and conflict. In his own suffering and even in the suffering he may have caused others, he clings to the promises God has given him. We should understand that these promises embody much more than a feeling that everything will eventually be alright. The promises are our destiny, demonstrated in the death and resurrection of Jesus, which is not only proclaimed by his followers, it is vividly experienced in the sacramental life of Christian faith. The promises of God in Jesus call us to courage and hope in the face of difficulties. They also pledge us to a life of compassion, a life we share with all those who live in the promises of God in Christ.
Can you remember times when you have felt like Job? How did you overcome?
In what ways is Jesus’ cry on the cross similar to the lament of Job? What does this mean?
May the power of your love, O Lord, fiery and sweet as honey, wean my heart from all that is under heaven, so that I may die for love or your love, you who were so good to die for love of my love. Amen.
A prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald is the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop of the Church of Canada.