The Word Made Fresh
1Then Job raised his voice and began to curse the day he was born. 2He said, 3“Let the day I was born be blotted out along with the night when my birth was announced. 4Sink that day into darkness. May God above not acknowledge it, nor any light illuminate it. 5Let it be claimed by sorrow and darkness, covered with clouds, frightened by the darkness of the day. 6Let that night be wrapped in thick darkness and let no rejoicing be raised in it. Erase it from the calendar altogether. 7Let that night be empty, with no joyful sounds heard in it. 8Let that day be cursed by those who ply the seas, and let Leviathan be roused. 9Let the stars not shine in the dawn of that day and let its hope for light be unfulfilled so that it’s morning cannot be seen, 10because it did not close my mother’s womb and hide my troubles from my own eyes.
11“Why, oh why didn’t I die at birth? Why could I not have come from the womb and simply stopped breathing? 12Why did knees hold me, and breasts feed me? 13I would be at rest now, and quietly asleep 14with long-gone kings and earthly leaders who merely rebuilt on the ruins left for them; 15or with princes whose houses were filled only with gold and silver. 16Why didn’t they bury me like a stillborn baby that never beheld the light of day?
17“In the grave, the wicked cease their evil acts, and the weary are at rest. 18In the grave, prisoners are at rest and cannot hear the voice of their taskmasters. 19The grave holds both great and small and frees the slaves from their owners.
20“Why are those who are in misery given light to see their suffering? Why is life given to those whose souls are bitter? 21They long for death, but it does not come. They seek it more fervently even than they seek for hidden treasure. 22They are filled with rejoicing and are happy when they find the grave.
23“Why is light provided for those who cannot see the path ahead of them because God has not shown it to them?
24“Instead of eating the bread, I sigh. Instead of drinking water, I groan. 25That which I fear the most has struck me. That which I dread is cast over me.
26“I have no peace and quiet. I try to rest, but troubles consume me.”
1-19: Chapter 3 begins a series of discourses which initially address Job’s pitiful condition and gradually move into discussions of broader and weightier matters. Job has been thinking about his situation silently for seven days, and now erupts in speech. His eloquent cry of despair is the despair of everyone who has ever suffered a devastating loss; his whole life, every day of it, is now worthless and he wishes none of it had ever occurred. He wants to erase from time the very day on which he was born and, having been born, he wishes that he had not lived beyond his birth, that he had been stillborn.
20-26: He curses the terrible fate of the bereaved – day still follows day, and he is forced to see the world around him; a world he no longer wants to see; a world in which he can no longer rejoice. Notice that he has moved from wishing the day of his birth had never dawned, to wishing he had died at birth, to facing the present crushing reality of what has befallen him, and the awful burden of his devastated soul.
In the midst of unmitigated suffering, Job still does not blame or curse God. He cannot accept any justification for his suffering, though, and wants to know why, why, why. At this stage he doesn’t even ask God to take away his suffering. Instead, he wishes he had never been born. As a pastor I have had occasion to counsel with people whose lives have been devastated by loss. Always, there is a desperate effort to find some meaning in the meaninglessness of what has befallen them. And yet, always, time heals. Right now, though, Job can find no reason to live nor find any comfort in living. Read on – in his friends’ counsel you will find examples of how not to comfort someone who is suffering!