After a week of silence with his friends, Job speaks. With a heavy heart he opens his mouth and curses the day he was born.
The first thing that popped into my mind when reading the subtitle for this section “Job Laments His Birth” is the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”. In that story George Baily (Jimmy Stewart) is having a serious problem and wishes he had never been born. He got his wish and got to see what the world would have been like if he had never been born. Too bad Clarence the angel wasn’t around to show Job what his world would have been like without him.
Job is in MISSERY! After a week of not speaking to his friends who came to sit with him, he opens his mouth to speak. It isn’t “hello” or “thanks for visiting” that crosses his lips. It’s “CURSE THE DAY I WAS BORN!” Those weren’t his exact words but they were the feelings he expressed. He did NOT say, “Curse God for doing this to me” or “What did I ever do to deserve this”.
He knows in his mind that there is no way to go back in time and undo his life but he sure wishes that he could. His current miseries blot out all the good memories of his life. “Naked I came from my mothers’ womb, and naked I shall return” (Job 1:22a).
At this moment in time his praising is absent. It wasn’t when he made that statement but it is at present. He isn’t cursing God at this point though. “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10b).
I’m curious to know if he is cursing the day in the past or pronouncing a curse on the anniversary of that day; his birthday. It could be read either way. Maybe he means both. He certainly means that he wishes history had been different. “Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire?” (verse 11). Then he would have known no evil or good, only “quiet”.
One thing Job is not seeing is the life that comes after death. True, a stillborn child has no knowledge of pain or good and evil but the kings and counselors, the princes, and the prisoners do. They are NOT all at east together. Sure, they no longer hear their earthly taskmasters but their eternities reflect the lives they lived. They are NOT all at rest.
Job is longing for the rest he perceives death brings but his own hand will not bring it about for himself. “Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?” (verse 23). God has lifted his hand of protection on Job, all except on his very life. “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life” (Job 2:6b). Job would be grateful if God would let him die. He believes it would relieve all his suffering.
Something to note here is that Job appears to have always been afraid of lingering in pain. “For the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me” (verse 25). Job has certainly seen others in pain during his life and most likely done whatever he could to help them while at the same time thinking to himself, “Thank God that’s not me!” Today it is him. And there is nothing any person can do to relieve his suffering.
He has to live with the pain. He has to endure the humiliation of being brought low. He has to open his eyes again on a new day each morning and know that there is nothing but more of the same torture waiting for him this day too. He sees no hope; no end in sight. But also nothing else to do but to go through it. Suicide is NOT an option for him.
I can feel his anguish. I hear his hopelessness. My husband faced something similar to Job. He had brain surgery to remove a tumor. By the time they decided to remove the tumor, he had received so much radiation that his brain tissue was scarred and hard. They couldn’t reach the tumor without tunneling through the scar tissue to get to it. It left him with the symptoms of a stroke. His left side was paralyzed and he was blind in both eyes. He worked hard to regain movement and function and most of his vision cleared. But he was left with debilitating pain on his entire left side. This pain grew and Grew and GREW through the years. Medicines couldn’t stop it, only slightly reduce it. He got to the point where he wished he had died on the operating table; the equivalent of Job’s wish he had been stillborn. I would encourage him by reminding him of all the good things he has experienced since that day that he would have missed with the different outcome but it still didn’t take away his misery.
Fortunately for my husband, medical science has come a long way since his brain surgery. After 21 years of excruciating pain, he is mostly pain free. Praise God! But I also praise God for his support and carrying him through those years. He would not be the man he is today without them.
I would not be the woman I am today without the ‘pain’ I have walked through. No, I haven’t endured excruciating physical pain like Job or my husband. But I have felt crushing emotional pain. I’m certain Satan was the author of that pain but I ‘agreed’ to shoulder it, along with the rest of the responsibilities of my life. The strong daughter in the movie Encanto is me.
I’m grateful that God didn’t leave me there too. Instead, He came along and lifted me out of that and gave me the understanding that I am NOT strong enough ON MY OWN. He is strong enough for both of us.
Job has a ways to go before reaching this point. We will be with him on his journey.
Where are you on this journey? Are you cursing the day you were born? Are your bad days overshadowing your good ones? Have you realized yet that you can’t do it on your own? Have you given it to Him to carry? Are you walking under a lighter load yet? Have you ‘taken a page’ from Paul’s story and chosen to praise Him even in the hard times? I can promise that this is the ONLY way through it with ANY victory. And the lessons on the other side are priceless!
Father God, I thank You for the lessons I have learned in my life. Even the painful ones. I don’t want to say ‘thank You for the pain’ because it HURTS, but THANK YOU for sustaining me in it! THANK YOU for carrying me through it! And THANK YOU for bringing me out of it; a little singed and misshapen, but better for having gone through it. I am who I am supposed to be because You didn’t let me give up. Help me hold tight in all the rest of the storms to come too.