Consider the story of Job, and how, after the loss of his wealth and the destruction of his herds, not one, two or even three of his children were taken from him, but all of them together in the very flower of their youth.

When you hear of his great spiritual courage, even if you are the weakest of men, it is not so difficult to recover yourself and return to life.

For you, my friend, at least watched over your sick child as he lay on his bed, you heard his last words and attended him as his life came to an end, you shut his eyes and closed his mouth.

But Job was not present at his children’s death, nor saw them dying in the house where all were buried as in a single tomb.

Yet after such overwhelming disasters he neither grieved nor despaired, but said: The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; it has been done as the Lord willed. Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever.

Let us too utter these words in every misfortune that life brings us, be it loss of wealth, bodily sickness, abuse, slander, or any other human ill.

Let us say: The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; it has been done as the Lord willed. Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever.

If we make this our philosophy, no misfortune will ever cause us suffering, however many we endure.

The gain will always be greater than the loss, and the good will outweigh the bad, since with these words you attract the favour of God and shake off the tyranny of the devil.

For as soon as you utter them, the devil at once takes to flight, and when he has gone the cloud of dejection lifts too and oppressive thoughts disappear in the company of their master; and besides all this you will have as your reward all the blessings both of earth and of heaven.

You have a steadfast example in Job and also in the Apostles, who scorned the terrors of this world for God’s sake, and so gained the blessings of eternity.

Let us then follow them, and in all that happens to us rejoice and give thanks to the benevolent God.

So shall we pass this present life in contentment and gain the blessings to come, by the grace and kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homily on the Paralytic who was Let Down through the Roof (PG 51:62-63); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Monday of the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2.

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