28 September 2010Job 3:1-23
"Why did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb and expire?" (v.11)
Since God allowed Satan to torment Job in chapter 1, Job has
lost his many livestock, all his children and has been afflicted
with painful sores all over his body. So far, he has just accepted
all this without complaint, but now he has had enough. Today's
reading is one long complaint. Job is so distraught at all he has
lost and in so much pain that he is brought to the point of wishing
he had never been born.
The end of the previous chapter tells us that Job's friends have come to be with him, but he has been so altered that they don't recognise him at first and are so upset when they realise it is their friend that they weep, tear their clothes and sit with him for seven days and seven nights. Perhaps it is the presence of his friends that sets off Job's complaining...
We are not accustomed to reading such heartfelt complaints in the Bible, but in fact this is a common theme of the psalms, where the author is complaining not just to his friends but to God. In Psalm 79for example, the writer complains that other nations have defiled God's Temple, destroyed the people and made them a mockery among their neighbours. And in Psalm 89 King David cries that God promised him everything (verses 19-37) but has now rejected him and allowed his enemies to triumph (verses 38-51). Both psalms ask how long God will wait before taking action to save the psalmist.
It must have been hard for Job's friends to listen to his complaint. The chapters that follow give each of them the chance to reply to Job, though he doesn't find what they say to him very helpful.
How do you respond to Job's heartfelt statement of despair?
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like this? How did you come through it?
What would you do, or have said, if you were one of Job's friends?