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The Reality of Job

A wise spiritual director can help you see the working of God in your struggles

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YerhotFor decades, I was a psychotherapist at a large medical facility in Wisconsin. Hundreds of patients came to me over the years, brokenhearted people, broken by the world, wounded by tragedies and events in life, and feeling very much alone. Perhaps you, too, have experienced this reality in your life. Few of us escape it.

Now, as a spiritual director for deacons and men in formation, I hear similar stories as men plumb the depths of their spiritual lives with me, men who face the inevitability of desolation as they seek a deeper awareness of God’s presence within them and in their ministries. I call it “the reality of Job.”

We hear the name of Job and immediately think of suffering and loss. It seems to me, though, that if we are to really understand Job, then we must understand the big picture and his complete story. Likewise, if we are to understand our spiritual lives, we must know the complete story of how God is working in our lives over a long period. Just as the beginning, the middle and the end of Job’s life must be stitched together as a whole, so must our lives be stitched.

What is Job’s story? In the beginning, Job was a man greatly blessed by God. He had a large family, land, cattle, sheep and other animals. He lived in a very nice home, had many servants, and was well-regarded by all. He was a man who did not seriously sin. He was a friend of God, you might say. He was also a man Satan chose to test, and God permitted the test for reasons Job’s friends didn’t understand. The worst of evils befell him. His life became miserable. His health, his family, and his possessions were all suddenly taken away from him. He lost everything, except his unwavering faith and the conviction of his righteousness before God. After severe testing, God restored Job to his former glory. Indeed, God gave back not only what was lost, but far greater things. Job was restored. His life was renewed.

What is your spiritual story? Remember, the beginning, middle and end of your story must be taken into account if you are going to make sense of your life. You must integrate and understand how God is stitching together your life.

I often meditate on our Blessed Mother at the foot of the cross. How was she able that day to stand there with an immaculate heart and give silent witness to her son who was being killed? Certainly, grace was given to her that allowed her to understand the whole story — the complete picture of what was happening. She understood the beginning, middle and end of the life of her son, and its meaning for us all. She knew Golgotha was not the end of the story. She knew the beginning, and she knew the Resurrection was soon to come, so the Cross made sense.

My friends, what happened to Mary can happen for you. You, too, can understand the beginning, the middle and the end of your story.

To discern the movements of God in your life, especially in times of desolation, struggle and loss, it is so important that you seek out competent spiritual direction to help you stitch together the complete story of God’s working in your life. When you are in that middle portion of life, when you are seeking the Lord but are going through a real purification and test, you must turn to a wise spiritual companion trained in spiritual direction. Unlike Job, whose friends lacked wisdom, you can seek out a wise director who can help you see the working of God in it all.

The reality of Job describes the life of the Son of God who came to us from the glories of heaven (the beginning), who suffered and died for us (the middle), and then rose and ascended to heaven in the greatest of glory (the end). The reality of Job describes the life of every faithful Christian.

If you have never experienced significant pain, remember the Cross. If you are living in the desolation of loss and suffering, remember God’s consolation will return. If you have experienced the grace of healing and restoration, live in gratitude and be sure to give witness to all God has done in your life. May God bless you all!

DEACON ROBERT T. YERHOT, MSW, is the assistant director emeritus of the diaconate for the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, in Minnesota. He sits on the editorial board for the Josephinum Diaconal Review and has previously published articles on diaconal spirituality.

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