The beginning of the book of Job, today’s First Reading, throws a bucket of cold water in the face of anyone who even has the most minimal sense of entitlement, and also touches on the biggest issue for which people take the Lord to task: why does he allow evil in the world? The book of Job is considered part of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament because it wrestles with the question of why bad things happen to good people. Job struggles with this throughout the book.
Blaming God for every bad thing that happens is nothing new. In today’s First Reading the Lord is praising Job’s virtue and has great faith in him. “Satan” in this story is not the fallen angel, since he still has communion with God and serves him; rather, Satan is a transliteration of a Hebrew word for “adversary,” someone in a court of law who tries to legally refute another’s claim. In this story, Satan is refuting Job’s virtue: is he virtuous just because he is comfortable and rich? Job’s virtue is on trial.
Job experiences a deluge of misfortune: he suffers from war, violence, and “natural” disaster costing him his loved ones and his wealth. Yet Job does not claim to be entitled to anything: “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!” Job’s virtue shines in the face of adversity. Our Lord permits trials, and sometimes even sends them, in order to make our virtue shine. He believes in us. He let himself be nailed on the Cross to prove that exact point.
Whatever trials or adversity we currently face, let’s not play the blame game, or play the entitlement card, or give up. Let’s prove Our Lord’s faith in us is well founded by facing our trials with virtue.