March 28, 2020
Knowing God in a time of sorrows
Job always conceived God in relation to the gifts he had received from the Lord and how people related to him as a righteous man. In his sufferings, he began to come to ‘know’ God beyond the gifts he had received. He recognized Him as the Giver of everything. In order to gain knowledge of this, he had to lose all his processions. “He lost the respect of others, he lost his health, his wealth – all thing – in order to see God in all His greatness and wisdom and marvelous nature. In losing all things, he did not doubt God and thus he came to see the apophatic, inexpressible character of God who is beyond all human understanding. He saw God in a higher way than is possible merely through his gifts. He saw God immediately through his suffering.
The believer continually needs to make abstraction of the things of this world, needs to put the things of this world into brackets of forgetfulness, in order to think of God who is above all human understanding. But sometimes it is necessary that God himself should intervene in order to throw into relief the little value of the things of this world in comparison with God, their transitory, passing nature in contrast to the eternity of God, in order to show us more clearly God's infinite transcendence of his gifts and his ineffable presence with us. In such cases it seems to us that God himself abandons us. This is because sometimes we become so attached to things that we can no longer see God. Sometimes we make so close a link between God and the things which he gives, that we identify God with these things and totally forget God in himself, and then if God no longer shows his interest in us by giving us gifts it seems to us that he has abandoned us.
For this reason, the cross often seems to us a sign of our being abandoned by God. But it can also happen that God does really withdraw himself from our vision in order to prove and strengthen the tenacity of our love for him. Even our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross had this feeling of complete abandonment by God. But even the Lord Jesus never weakened in his love for God.
In reality, God never abandons us in whatever situation we find ourselves. It is possible that he may disappear for a time, for a moment, from our horizon, from our understanding. But the God whom we habitually think of in terms of creation will then appear to us in the true greatness of his glory which is indefinable and inexpressible in human thoughts and words.
Fr. Dumitru Staniloae
“The Victory of the Cross”