Friday, September 2, 2011

And Job Laughed

Yesterday I wrote about the Eternal Accountant, and balancing the books, and trusting in God, all well and good things. But in the past 24 hours, I learned a bit more. And I felt that the Job of the Old Testament was calling to me. And laughing: My boy, you don’t know a THING about trust.

I wrote yesterday of the daily things you come to rely upon, like being able to pay your bills each month. I wrote about how the simple things can mean much to others, who are not as blessed as we. And I wrote about how we can and must help each other. Part of God’s answering our prayers is in accepting His answers via others, and giving of His answers to others via us. But most of the things I wrote about were not really critical things. Were I truly unable to pay my bills this month I might have had to humble myself a bit, but I could have called upon friends. Were people really hungry this month, they could find food at a soup kitchen, if they could humble themselves to go there. For most of our needs there are answers in this Body of Christ, and we can and should help one another. We can and should be able to trust one another, here.

Most of our issues of trust, and my examples yesterday, are more like “I trust in the Post Office,” rather than “I trust in God.” An important letter or bill must arrive on time, and I trust in the Post Office to deliver it ---- but it does 99.9% of the time, even without my worries or perhaps prayers. Perhaps at a basketball game I may trust the man at the foul line to make the free throw --- he has made 75% of them in the past. I think perhaps much of our reliance on God is for things like this, things He has reliably delivered to us, time and time again. And even if it is somewhat less frequent, the 3-point shot by the guard who hits them a third of the time, still we can have much confidence in God to deliver, especially in the crucial situations.

I think Job would say that that is not a real critical test of your trust.

Job might ask: “Are you willing to bet your house on the team which is one point down in the game, with one second to go, and is just inbounding the ball on the opposite end of the court?” If you really and truly are, without worry or anxiety as to the outcome, THAT is trust. Job knew about trust. Job not only couldn’t pay his bills, he lost all his possessions, yet still he said: “I trust in you, my God.” Job lost all his family and friends, yet still he said: “I trust in you, my God.” Job lost all his health and was in terrible pain --- and God wouldn’t let him die --- yet still he said: “I trust in you, my God.”

That’s trust.

For us, trust in God is when we are “all in,” and committed in situations in which we could see nothing else to do, but to totally commit. The spouse who says: “There is no work here, we’ll have to pick up and move to a new state and trust we’ll find work there.” That is trust. The parent who hears the doctor say: “There’s only a 20% chance of success with this surgery,” and after praying to God says: “Let’s do this.” That’s trust. The spouse who accepts the adulterer’s apology and says: “Okay, you’re forgiven; let’s move on from here.” That’s trust. The soldier who says: “The only way we can get out of this is for me to rush the enemy position; cover me.” That is trust. Trust isn’t just expecting the outcome you hope and pray for, the good job or the successful surgery, or that your life will be spared, trust is expecting that the outcome will be successful, even if it is not the one you prayed for. Trust is expecting that whatever the outcome, God wills it for us, and there is a good thing there, even if we cannot see it. Even if, like Job, all we see is disaster.

I’ve been working on a project for well over a year. After praying, I thought it was as God willed, so I proceeded as best I could. I enlisted others and they spent much time and effort. I trusted in others who said they’d help. All seemed well and good, even if there were struggles along the way. And then as I neared the end, one who had supported me all the way, who said “trust in me,” told me yesterday that they would not do as they promised. Perhaps a key part of the whole project, now gone.

What do you do when someone you thought of as a friend lets you down? What do you do when you fear you are going to let others down? What do you do when you think you are going to be laughed at?

I wrote some meditations for the rosary a while back. Under the Annunciation, when the angel asked Mary to commit to accepting a pregnancy, when everyone knew she was not yet married, I wrote this meditation, as I imagined what perhaps were her thoughts: How can I do this? This will cause me shame, embarrassment, deep sacrifice or pain, public humiliation. Do You want this? I pray that meditation both to feel Mary’s pain, and to admit that sometimes I feel those exact same pains. I ask those exact same questions when REALLY difficult trials face me. Like this one.

But then I read down to the next meditation line, where I suspect Mary’s thoughts then went, or rather both her thoughts and that of the angel: Do not be afraid. Four simple words from God’s messenger, and from God Himself: Trust in Me.

When the shock of my letdown yesterday hit, I was asking some of those questions I thought Mary asked. There was a strong inclination to “do something,” to take charge and figure out what I should do next. I thought of what alternatives were possible, were there ways to salvage this year’s worth of work, this year’s worth of trust. Instead I waited, and spent time asking God: “What would You have me do?”

I could imagine a now healthy, somewhat rotund Job laughing loudly at my situation: Har! Har! Har!! What now of your trust, my boy, what now? Go read of my trials again, and learn what trust really is.

And so I shall.


  1. I see you are a very spiritual person. Trust is extremely difficult.

  2. Wow-powerful post here Tom. I'm sorry for your struggles and I thank you for having the courage to share the lesson of Job for others like me who have much to learn about trust.

  3. The task I committed to was to put out a book of stories, of people who answered God's call. Seven people committed to write their stories, which I estimated at 25 pages each, or a book of 175-200 pages, as I told them. All were enthusiastic and eventually found time to write, except this last, who backed out.

    I was saddened and disappointed, and am still praying what to do. Meanwhile, I have realized that the one who dropped out was the only one who I actually picked and asked; all the others were referred to or in some way came to me. Perhaps I am not too good at picking myself, but must let God do these things. And yesterday I added up the words of the six who have written; assuming 300 words to a page the page count comes to exactly 200 pages, my original thoughts on the book length. Perhaps this is good enough; I'll pray a bit more.

    I did read Job again. An interesting point about that book is that when it was written most Jews didn't believe in an afterlife, but God rewarded or punished here, on earth. But Job saw no rewards coming, or perhaps even possible, yet still he said, I will trust.

    Spiritual person, Anonymous? No I'm only growing in holiness; I suspect real trust is still far ahead of me on the path.