The first reading on Sunday, the 5th Sunday of the Year, comes from the Book of Job.
Job has endured great suffering and loss. This passage comes from the part of the Book of Job where he is enduring the ‘wise’ words of his ‘friends’.
Job began to speak:
Is not man’s life on earth nothing more than pressed service,
his time no better than hired drudgery?
Like the slave, sighing for the shade,
or the workman with no thought but his wages,
months of delusion I have assigned to me,
nothing for my own but nights of grief.
Lying in bed I wonder, ‘When will it be day?’
Risen I think, ‘How slowly evening comes!’
Restlessly I fret till twilight falls.
Swifter than a weaver’s shuttle my days have passed,
and vanished, leaving no hope behind.
Remember that my life is but a breath,
and that my eyes will never again see joy.
‘Chin up’, ‘Cheer up’. ‘It will soon get better…’ Words of comfort often fail to hit the mark and produce the right result. Sometimes the reasons for great sadness and distress are agonisingly real and comfort is out of reach.
Let the passage from Job give you permission to know your own (perhaps often unacknowledged) sadnesses and sorrows. You will surely find the remainder of the Liturgy of the Word a real comfort if you know your real sadnesses.
Image of Job and his ‘comforters’ is by WIlliam Blake.