In the third chapter of Job he recalls the total and horrific tragic events that brought overwhelming despair and agony to his life. He curses the day he was born and wishes that the day he was conceived would be erased. The chapter ends with these words:
“What I always feared has happened to me.
What I dreaded has come true.
I have no peace, no quietness.
I have no rest; only trouble comes.”
Job had suffered all that we dread as humans. God took his property, livestock and then, even his children. And on top of that he is inflicted with painful sores all over his body. Only his wife is left and she urges him to curse God and die.
Now we have some context for why Job curses the day he was born. At this point in Job’s life our appreciation for the sovereignty of God collides with the overwhelming pain of life in the cursed world that we inhabit. It is not surprising that Job begins his human assessment of the terrible events of his life by cursing the day he was born.
However, when you read Job’s words, you must not read back into the text the modern idea of cursing. Job does not utter a string of one-word invectives that attack the actions of God. Nor does Job assume the place of God and call for damnation upon others. His “curse” is detailed and reflects the profoundly terrible things that have happened to him.
Now, as he faces the rubble of a life that was idyllic only few days ago, Job is overcome by sadness. Everything that he once valued in life is gone. And he now sits in unbearable, physical pain and affliction. So, as he looks back upon his life, he begins to deconstruct those things there were formerly seen as blessings–such as his birth–and wonders why he was even born. This is Job’s cursing.
This is not a stream of foul language that, at its core, challenges the will and character of God in bitter rebellion. His lament is full, yet he retains his integrity with God. He still pleads with God for hope.
As Christians we do not have to run from the overwhelming grief that flows from the sin-cursed world (Romans 8:22). You can respond with grief as Job does. However, you must never lose sight of God and his covenant faithfulness, the God who is your strength and portion forever. In the final chapters of the book God finally replies to Job’s plea with an awesome display of power, compassion and blessing. Desperate grief and sorrow does not have to lead to cynicism, despondency, bitterness and fear.
The bulk of the book of Job centers around the dialogue with three “friends” who rebuke Job for his “curse.” But in the end, it is the friends who receive the rebuke of God.
“My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.”
You can believe what Job believed: All things are resolved in God, the Judge of all the earth, who does what is right and true. He alone is worthy of praise!