I don’t know which Old Testament book makes me more depressed: Job or Jeremiah. The first reading for this 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time was from Job. The point for me this vigil was that suffering is a necessary part of life and only Jesus can make my life worth living.
When the girls were growing up, their complaint was that something “wasn’t fair.” My reply was that life isn’t fair and they were going to have to learn to live with whatever was happening in their lives or do something to change it. I explained that God was not the cause of the unfairness or “suffering” but human choices could be. God is a just God, and unfairness is a result of human sinfulness. They learned to distinguish between fairness and justice. And began to talk about the injustices in life that they could do something about versus the petty little things that were uncomfortable for them maybe but would probably change with time.
My husband and I were the “Jobs” of the family for quite a while as we struggled with his heart disease and the suffering that a chronic illness causes in a marriage. We have seen times when we didn’t have a nickel in our pocket and would roll pennies for bread and gas. Hamburger Helper without the hamburger. Rice and beans without the beans. Spaghetti and sauce without the sauce. You get the idea.
Anyhow, we learned a lot about suffering, Job-style, as we paid off huge medical bills. And, in all the struggles, we never once blamed God or got angry at God, or thought “why us?” We knew “why us.” Charles was blessed with a large heart (like his dad’s) that could be broken (literally and figuratively) very easily.
Ah! Suffering is a big part of our life even now. Heart disease is still with us but, then, so is Charlie. We have new medical bills now that he has had two procedures in the past two years. We have a “peace that surpasses all understanding,” though. We’ve paid off medical bills before and we will again. God is good and He is with us. There is a reading from Divine Office (Monday in the 8th week of Ordinary Time) from St. Gregory the Great, that explains my feelings exactly. Only Jesus can make our lives truly worth living. The bad will not hurt us a much if we remember all the good that God has blessed us with. God bless all of you other Jobs out there.