He was 10 years old when it happened. Talk show host Stephen Colbert’s world changed forever the day his father and two older brothers were killed in a plane crash. In the years that followed, faith and grace brought him to a deeper understanding of life, too often marked by tragedies and grief. Colbert says, It’s a gift to exist, and with existence comes suffering. There’s no escaping that, but if you are grateful for your life, then you have to be grateful for all of it.
For people of many faiths, and none, the Biblical story of Job has been used to explore the question, “why do bad things happen to good people?” Those who have read the story understand the question is never really answered. Yet looking down the centuries at Colbert, Job would agree he learned the same truth, if you are grateful for your life, then you have to be grateful for all of it.
One might wonder, why introduce Job at this time of year? Job can seem like a downer for anyone focused on the comfort and joy of the season. Perhaps if the figure of Job was placed in our crèche, we might understand this feast in a deeper way. The smiling baby is the compassionate Savior, who as an adult embraces those for whom life has been unkind. Jesus offered a listening heart and healing presence to anyone living with unanswered questions or dreams that became nightmares. The wood of the manger becomes the wood of the compassionate cross of Jesus.
Not everyone comes to this time of year with a holly, jolly Christmas spirit. To them Job beckons, “come stand near the manger, there’s room for you.” This too is the life of faith for which we are grateful.
[The Aleteia community is joining the journey of an Old Testament pilgrim each day this Advent, as they lead us to the Christ Child in this holy season. Find the daily reflections here.]