On May 6, the Orthodox Church commemorates the Prophet Job. He lived about 1600 years before Christ, around the era of the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Job was the fifth generation descendent of Abraham. He was a very pious and just man who was blessed with wealth and a family. The name Job in Hebrew means “persecuted;” certainly characteristic of the life he lived.
However, Satan made a proposition or a bet, if you will, with God that if Job was to lose all his fortune and family that he would turn against Him. Satan told God: but stretch out Your hand and touch all he has, and see if he will bless You to Your face
(Job 1:11). So Job lost his cattle and his own children. Yet, in all these things that happened, Job did not sin against the Lord or charge God with folly
Then Satan struck Job with malignant sores from head to toe. Even his wife questioned him on how much longer he would remain steadfast.
Then Job looked at her and said, “You have spoken as one of the foolish women speaks. If we accepted good things from the Lord’s hand, shall we not endure evil things?” In all these things that happened to him, Job did not sin with his lips against God (ibid, 2:15).
Job endured through his hardships with patience and faith in God. He never asked for anything back. He displayed great humility, imitating the Savior, Jesus Christ who was to come. Job said about himself: I regard myself as dust and ashes (ibid, 42:6).
Then one day the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends, and He forgave their sin. The Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before and he went on to live to an old age. It is written that he will rise with those whom the Lord resurrects (ibid, 42:18).
The Book of Job is found in the Old Testament and part of the Wisdom literature. It is read during Holy Week: Holy Thursday morning and Holy Friday afternoon. A parallel is drawn between Christ and Job, two righteous men who suffered, not having any fault of their own.
During tumultuous times, it is bolstering to hear about this virtuous man, the Prophet Job. We have all lost something in our lives; whether a job or a loved one. Some have certainly lost more than others. Yet, hearing about the life of Job can certainly be a consolation to us all and provide hope.
Lord, You gave us righteous Job as an example of moral strength and of patience and fortitude, his virtues and pious words and his godly actions, even though he suffered; and thus, O good One, You instruct all those who waver when faced with tragedy. O Jesus the almighty Savior of our souls, we extol the plan for salvation that You, O Lord, have fulfilled in Your love for man. (Sticheron of Festal Vespers)
The Resurrection of Christ is indeed our greatest hope. It is essential for us to greet one another with the greeting: Christ is Risen! Likewise, to respond with: Truly He is Risen! Not just for the first few days of Pascha but the entire forty days.
The Prophet Job is a type of Christ which is why his book is read throughout Holy Week. It is very much comforting to discern the life of Job and to seek his supplications before the Lord, especially during challenging times. The unknown is perhaps the scariest thing of all. Yet, with faith we can firmly say that God will not abandon us. He will help us and guide us and give us what we need just like He did with Job.
The entire body of Job became a terrible wound covered with boils. Yet he remained steadfast and patient in the face of his misfortune for seven years, always giving thanks to God. Job teaches us that we must endure life’s adversities patiently and with trust in God. Let us remember the verse from Psalm 46: be still and know that I am God.
The important lesson from the life of Job, is to offer thanksgiving to God for all things. It is not just for the material things we possess but for the things we sometimes take for granted. God giving us even another day, is certainly something to thank Him for. We may pray for things we need, but do we thank Him for the things He has granted us already?
When we are faced with hardships, many of us panic and our greatest adversary is none other than fear. Yet, the antidote to fear is hope and with hope some of the most greatest challenges can be overcome. On Holy Thursday evening in the 1st Gospel reading, we hear a very important verse. Christ told His Apostles before His Passion: In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (Jn 17:33).
On beholding the riches of Job's virtues, the enemy of the righteous contrived to despoil them; and though he cast down the tower of the Saint's body, he could not plunder the wealth of his spirit, for he found the soul of that blameless one to be fully armed; but as for me, he hath stripped me and led me captive away. Hasten, then, before the end, rescue me from the wily one, O Saviour, and save me (Festal Apolytikion).
Christ is Risen!
Glory to His Holy Three-Day Resurrection!
A Blessed Feast to All!
A graduate of Long Island University, College of Pharmacy, and Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, John works to share the richness and beauty of the Orthodox Faith with the wider community.