If we want to speak about patience, we must speak of the righteous Job. Job was a God-fearing man with many children and enormous wealth. His name was known throughout the eastern parts of the world. Everyone held him in high esteem and admiration. Unexpectedly, he lost everything: his wealth, his children, and his health. From the height of fortune he fell into the depth of misfortune; from distinction to unimportance. Not only did he have to deal with extreme poverty, a serious illness, the anguish due to the death of his children, the ruthlessness of the bandits, and the ungratefulness of his friends, but he also had to contend with ridicule and slander. All possible misfortunes fell upon him. Worse of all, he was unprepared for them. Whoever is born and grows up in poverty is accustomed to enduring difficulties and prepared to live in deprivation. Similarly, whoever loses some of his children, no matter how much he grieves for their death, still finds consolation in the children that remain.
Job, however, who had enjoyed life-long prosperity became destitute overnight, and then witnessed the death of all his ten children simultaneously. As they were eating and drinking at the home of their eldest brother, a great gust of wind suddenly came from the desert, the house was razed to the ground, and all of them were buried under the rubble. Job’s pain was exceedingly great on account of his unexpected and utter poverty. His spiritual anguish was indescribable due to the sudden, tragic death of his children. And if that wasn’t enough, he himself became seriously ill. He was filled with painful and putrid wounds from head to toe. He then sat on a dunghill, took a piece of ceramic tile and began to scratch them in order to feel some relief. If someone brought him a little bit of food, he would not touch it. “For I see my food as filth,” he would say (Job 6:7). The repugnant stench of his wounds and the incurable pain of his soul dismissed all desire for food.
How can I find words to describe his unbelievable misfortunes? I see him sitting on a pile of dry manure. Blood and pus are oozing from his wounds. Countless worms are eating away at his flesh. He has no consolation from anywhere. No one shows him any compassion. His servants ignore him. His friends criticize him. Even the common folk mock him. “But now they laugh me to scorn, men younger than I,” he says with deep sorrow. “But now I am their lyre, and they have me as their byword. They detest me and keep their distance. They do not hesitate to spit in my face” (Job 30:1-10).
What a dreadful misfortune indeed! What an unbearable calamity! And yet, as soon as the loving and merciful Lord revealed to Job the cause of his sufferings, “There is no other reason I have allowed you to suffer other than for your righteousness to appear” (Job 40:8), immediately the righteous man felt such relief that he no longer believed anything bad had happened to him.