They who endure misfortune without complaining are rewarded even more than them who eagerly do good deeds. Job is proof of this; for he became known to the world more on account of the trials he suffered than on his virtuous accomplishments. Everyone, of course, admired him when he was living happily and carrying out good works. What exactly did he do? He himself describes his actions: “For I saved the poor from the hand of the oppressor and helped the orphan who had no helper. The perishing man and the widow’s mouth blessed me for standing by them. I put on righteousness and clothed myself with judgment like a robe. I was the eye of the blind and the foot of the lame” (Job 29:12-15). Nevertheless, if the entire world knows him today, after so many centuries, it is not because he distributed his wealth to the poor but because when he lost his wealth he did not become disheartened; it is not because he clothed the naked with garments fabricated from the wool of his sheep but because when fire fell from the sky and burnt his entire flock he glorified God. Initially, he was compassionate as he cared for the poor; later, he became a philosopher as he glorified God for his misfortune. Initially he would help others; afterwards, he praised the Lord. He didn’t think to himself, “Why did this happen to me? Why did I lose my flocks and livestock, which provided food to thousands of poor people? If I was unworthy of enjoying such wealth, why didn’t God at least spare my sheep for the poor?” No such thought crossed Job’s mind. On the contrary, realizing that God allows everything to take place for our own benefit, He thanked the Lord. It is not so extraordinary if someone thanks God when everything is going his way; rather, it is truly wondrous, extraordinary, and praiseworthy when someone patiently and gratefully endures even the harshest trials and difficulties.
If they who have become rich by taking advantage of others and unjust means are overcome with sadness when they lose even a small portion of their wealth, how much praise is due to Job who did not lose his faith in God and did not stop thanking Him, when he witnessed all his possessions—which he had acquired justly with his own sweat—disappearing in one fell swoop? Not one person was there to encourage or support him! Even his wife, swayed by the pain of her soul, pierced him with her bitter and discouraging words: “How long will you continue being patient?” she would ask. “How long will you wait and hope for your suffering to come to an end? Look! Your memory has been wiped out from the earth! Your sons and daughters, whom I gave birth to with pangs and whom I raised with such difficulty have perished. You yourself are sitting on a dunghill full of worms, spending your nights in the open air without a roof over your head. I, on the other hand, go about as a wanderer and a beggar from place to place and from house to house, waiting for the sun to set in order to rest from the labors and pains that now beset me. Go ahead! Blaspheme God and die!” (Job 2:9-14).
The words of this woman in desperation could have shattered a rock—but not Job. If we consider how frequently men who suffer no hardship are beguiled by women, then we can understand how courageous and God-loving Job was, who remained vigilant and uninfluenced by his wife’s lamenting and reasoning, even though he had been struck by so many afflictions. “Why have you spoken as one of the foolish women?” he sternly replied. “If we accepted good things from the Lord’s hand, shall we not endure evil things?” (Job. 2:15).
Through his response, this blessed man shows us that he was no less inferior than Christ’s Apostles. I dare say he was even superior than them! Because the Apostles received consolation with the thought that they were suffering on account of the Lord. Job, however, had no such assurance. Moreover, Job was not disdained, ridiculed, and despised by his enemies (as the Apostles were), but by his friends, his servants, and people whom he had previously helped—which was incomparably more painful.