Lessons on Lent from the Book of Job

Today begins the holy season of Lent–a time to detach ourselves from the baggage we carry around and to attach ourselves more fully to God.

This means fasting and doing without the many good things, seeking what is best: God.

This means recognizing that we need to focus less on me and my needs and my wants, and more on the Lord and his ways.

Let us go into the desert of Lent. Pack lightly but be sure bring a compass, a rosary, and a Bible.

Tuesday evening I continued my reading of the OT and finished the Book of Job. Job’s answer to the Lord in the very last chapter struck me:

Then Job answered the LORD:
“I know that thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of thine can be thwarted.
….
I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees thee;
therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

These are Job’s last words to Almighty God, at least that are recorded on the pages of the Holy Bible.

Job tells God that he had heard much about Him (before this, of course, three men tell Job about God and attempt to change Job’s heart and mind), but that now everything has changed because for the first time, Job sees Him.

Job had heard so much about God, but now, now he sees God! And what happens? Job immediately shrinks: he shrinks in response to the now visible reality that God is God and he is not.

Only then, when Job jumps off the throne and allows God to sit there, does Job’s life change forever. He realizes his own sinfulness and imperfection, so much so that he “despises” and rejects himself.

He repents in dust and ashes.

So ought we.

In dust and ash–that which we are and that which we are sure to return to–we see our own littleness, our own ugliness, our own futility.

This sight of ourselves ought to make us repent. We may be dust and destined to dust, but we are also God’s carefully chosen children. And we fall short of what he asks of us.

And that–repentance–is what Lent is all about.

How should we seek to grow during this Lent? By shrinking!

May we take this away from Job’s life: we will never understand and live appropriately until we encounter God. We can hear all day long about him, but something truly does change when we meet him in all his glory. We have little hope of ever encountering him–and therefore changing–when our lives are filled with things of this world.

And so we fast. We give alms. We pray. We hope. We follow. We believe!

One thought on “Lessons on Lent from the Book of Job

  1. I've realized that I had to shrink sometime ago. Trouble is, sometimes, we really don't know we are doing something we should shrink from. Take raising children. There comes a time when you've done all you can do, but pray, it seems and you then have to shrink back from some of the things you were trying to help them learn so hard, but that they didn't pick up or understand or appreciate, whatever..you have to shrink back and hope that they will find God somewhere where you had little choice but to leave off, because they are young adults. It is so hard..so many things you wanted them to understand..and especially your sincerity in the matter, but alas,
    they turn their heads and hearts and the world starts grasping and tugging at them and because you had to shrink back, it hurts. I don't know where I'm going here, except to say, I can't shrink back my prayers, but then, I know we aren't supposed to do that, but it is incredibly hard to have so much to say and yet its now their choice for the most part to listen..oh yes, I've learned how hard it is to shrink back and it looks like I'll have to continue doing that and this must be when as in growing “older” that patience and hope must grow on and we have to hold on, but its sure hard and frightening, but hold on, I must. Thanks for this post…as hard as it is to read…we just want to hear the voice of God saying ..”It will be allright, parents.” Just thanks for the space to put my thoughts. Suz

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