SAINT JEROME, PRIEST AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH (MEMORIAL)
O Lord, you have probed me and you know me.
Poor Job! After many chapters of justifying himself, arguing with his friends, and shaking his fist at God for treating him unfairly, he is reduced to silence. For his part, God is confident in Job’s integrity and faithfulness, so he allows Job’s outrage to storm against him. Then at last, he answers Job. But God is not as interested in explaining himself to Job as he is in doing what David describes in today’s psalm—probing the inner workings of Job’s heart (139:1).
Why? Because God knows Job inside and out, and he loves him too much to leave him in his bitterness. So he helps Job see the ways he is missing the mark. “Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning?” he asks. “Tell me, if you know all” (Job 38:12, 18). God’s words help Job start to see that he has very little knowledge of the universe and even less control over it. God’s pointed questions reveal that despite Job’s righteousness, he doesn’t have all the answers. But through it all, God doesn’t condemn him; his love for Job never changes.
And so Job is reduced to silence. Realizing that he has spoken out of turn, he is humbled and repents. He comes to understand that, as the psalmist said, no matter where he flees, no matter how low he sinks, “even there your hand shall guide me, and your right hand hold me fast” (Psalm 139:10). Job’s heart is changed.
God knows us too, inside and out. He understands our thoughts from afar (see Psalm 139:2). He knows the ways we are following him faithfully, and he knows where we are missing the mark. It might not seem like fun to invite God to probe your heart. But seeing his love in the face of your failings can help you appreciate how he holds you fast no matter what. You’ll also see how this “probing” can prepare your heart for the blessings he has in store for you. This is what happens to Job at the end of his story. And if you look back over your own life, you’ll probably see how God has blessed you too.
“Lord, thank you that you are the One who knows me the best and who loves me the most!”
Job 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5