Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Prisoner for Christ: Lessons for the Unemployed III

The cross Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan carried from 1975 to 1988 was that he was unable to fulfill his regular duties as Bishop of Nha Trang in South Vietnam. Instead he was thrown into solitary confinement…Vietnamese style.

Albeit the Cardinal endured harsher conditions than an unemployed man, but in the absence of his work as a Shepherd of Nha Trang, he struggled with much of the same struggles. These similar struggles consisted of waiting, monotony, idleness, and even having to endure the silence of God. With regard to unemployment, what seems like a senseless layoff or a never-ending search for a job- meeting only with rejections or silence from the employment prospects -needs to be reconciled with the faith in a benevolent Overseer; One who ensures a right ordering of life.

In the past one may have attributed his blessings and good fortune to a good and kind heavenly Father. Now that he is amid the wine-press of suffering, he might be tempted to blame God for the losses he has to endure. Strangely, it may seem, it is a biblical truth that God is to be credited for fortunes and misfortunes alike; but not blame. No. He wills by decree, or permits in His passive will, hardships that confound even faithful believers. Hence, the prophet Job said, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away…” and then he adds, “blessed be the name of the LORD!" (Job 1:21) So, we are not to blame but rather give thanks to God knowing that “all things work for good for those who love God. “ Later, in chapter five of the same book Job said, “For he wounds, but he binds up; he smites, but his hands give healing.” (Job 5:18)

God, therefore, wounds and smites every bit as much as he binds up and gives healing. Every father, worthy of the name, who wishes to cultivate virtue and sound character in his children, commits himself to a difficult and sometimes painful work. Later in life, however, his children love him for it. With the benefit of hindsight or from the perspective of eternity, we too will love God even more for the trials He permitted.

Knowing how the loving providence of God works and being a beneficiary of its grace, a man who is husband and father can reconcile the two worlds he is an ambassador of: the world he works in and the world he comes home to; namely, his family. These two worlds affect a man in ways most women have a hard time understanding. To be sure, unemployment can rock these two worlds to the core; it also challenges his integrity as a man. But in a politically correct, egalitarian society, this mountain he has to climb can go unnoticed. With that said it is important to know that it is a virtuous woman and getting counsel from spiritual reading (i.e. Scripture and the Saints) that can make the difference. The grace Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan received in order to conquer all that was shortsighted, selfish and imperfect within him can also accommodate the man who is trying to find a job and provide for his family at the same time. Knowing and accepting the arduous circumstances as the content of God's will for each moment will help any man summit the highest of mountains.

Read how St. Paul waited on the Lord just after his public ministry got underway in Quiet in Tarsus. To be found in the right hand column under Spirituality, Social and Church.