Why We Must Always Stick with God
By Fr Oskar Wermter SJ – One of the most exciting stories in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, is the Book of Job.
Job is a just man; he has faith and complete trust in God. He has been richly blessed with a large family, plenty of land to grow crops, plenty of domestic animals.
Satan challenges God to allow him to deprive Job of his rich blessings. Will Job retain his faith and trust in God, even if his children die, his crops are destroyed, and his oxen, sheep and camels—all his animals—are struck down and die?
Job replied to all this horrible misfortune by saying: “Naked I came 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!”
“In all this Job did not sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God” (Job 1:21-22).
But Job denies that his immense misfortune has been caused by his sin. He denies that he deserves to be punished.
And he does not blame Yahweh God for the loss of his children and his wealth. The Lord does not take revenge. He is not an avenger. He does not see evil in Job for which he would have to inflict even more evil on him.
We read elsewhere in the Scriptures that we are not to pay back evil with more evil (1 Thess 5:15). We should not hate even our enemy.
“Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44).
We are not to judge and condemn, in the mistaken belief we can overcome evil done to us by evil we do to others.
Job believes in God and trusts him, even if there is evil in this world that God has created and given us to dwell in.
Even if the evil one tortures us, we do not turn against the Lord who gives us good gifts while permitting evil in his world. We are his and we remain his, and he does not abandon us.
There cannot be reason to turn against our Lord and Creator. “Neither death nor life…nor angels…nor powers will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39).
Keep Faith Untouched
Yahweh allowed Satan to test Job by taking away his children and all his riches and possessions, though he was not to take his life (Job 1:12). Job would have had reason to resent what God allowed to happen to him. But he did not. He had no hatred, no grudge.
Even if evil overtakes us—war, famine, poverty, illness—it must not touch our faith.
Why? God himself does not turn against sinners, against the unfaithful, or transgressors of the law. He is not a vengeful tyrant who returns evil for evil, and answers provocation with anger.
The Son of God, our Lord, enters our sinful world. He was born in Bethlehem, the city in which the vindictive King Herod ordered the massacre of the “innocents”.
God became one of us and surrendered himself to this world of war, blood and violence.
“He took away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). He carried the burden of evil and destruction, anger and revenge. He was found in the company of sinners. He died praying for his enemies.
He did not believe that violence could be overcome by counterviolence. “All who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Mt 26:52). He set us free by non-violence.
Job anticipated the non-violent redeemer and unarmed liberator. God let Satan be. The Son of God did not resist violence with a call to arms. Job suffered the malice of Satan. This he did not blame on God. Job remained God’s trustful servant even in the darkness of not knowing the divine mystery.
Jesus acted like Job in his humility. For the disciples of Jesus, including ourselves, Job remains a model in his unwavering faith.
Job did not question Yahweh, he did not pretend to know God and be able to judge him. Jesus prayed: “Take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22:42).
And he died commending himself into the hands of his Abba/Father (cf. Lk 23:46).
We do not know why there is evil in God’s world, indeed in our own hearts. Guilty or innocent, we know that nothing “separates us from the love of God present in Christ”.
Fr Oskar Wermter SJ writes from Harare.