As the Christmas decorations are tucked away, and the glitter gives way to a New Year...
Earthly sorrows often take center stage. It may be the loss of a loved one, betrayal by a friend, chronic illness, financial strain, or simply a sense of emptiness or longing.
I've thought a great deal about the book of Job this year. And found great consolation in the following passage from the book The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
Here, the kind and patient monk, Father Zossima, reflects on the story of Job and his own waning moments on Earth.
... I've never been able to read that sacred tale without tears. And how much that is great, mysterious, and unfathomable there is in it! The words of mockery and blame, proud words, "How could God give up the most loved of his saints for the diversion of the devil, take from him his children, smite him with sore boils so that he cleansed the corruptions from his sores with a potsherd - and for no object except to boast to the devil! 'See how much My saint can suffer for My sake!'”
But the greatness of it all lies just in the fact that it is a mystery—that the passing earthly show and the eternal verity are brought together in it. In the face of earthly truth, the eternal truth is accomplished.
The Creator, just as on the first days of creation ended each day with praise: "that is good that I have created," looks upon Job and again praises His creation. And Job praising the Lord, serves not only Him but all His creation for generations and generations, and for ever and ever, since for that he was ordained.
Good heavens, what a book it is, and lessons there are in it!
What a book the Bible is! What a miracle and what strength is given with it to man! It is just like a sculpture of the whole world and all its human characters, with everything named there and everything shown for ever and ever.
And what mysteries are solved and revealed; God raises Job again, gives him wealth again. Many years pass by, and he has other children and loves them. But how could he love those new ones when his old children are no more, when he has lost them? Remembering them, how could he be completely happy with the new ones, however dear the new ones might be? But he could, he could! It's the great mystery of human life that old grief passes gradually into quiet tender joy. The mild serenity of age takes the place of the riotous blood of youth.
I bless the rising sun each day, and, as before, my heart sings to meet it, but now I love even more its setting, its long slanting rays and the soft tender gentle memories that come with them, the dear images from the whole of my long happy life - and over all the Divine Truth, softening, reconciling, forgiving! My life is ending, I know that well, but every day that is left me I feel how my earthly life is in touch with a new infinite, unknown, but approaching life, the nearness of which sets my soul quivering with rapture, my mind glowing, and my heart weeping with joy.
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