“After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. 2 And Job spake, and said, 3 Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.” ~Job 3:1-3
The sad sage of Job, the suffering saint, continues in the Divine narrative. Once more the curtain rises in the dramatic story. In the scene set before the audience, Job is all-alone. He begins to speak in a monologue. We listen and grow sad. There has been a shift in Job’s thinking. Gone is the trumpet note of faith: “The Lord gives and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord!”
There is something else now, for we read that Job opened his mouth, “and cursed his day.” “You have heard of the patience of Job,” wrote the apostle James (James 5:11), now hear of his impatience too. Matthew Henry comments on this chapter with these words. “We wonder that a man should be so patient as he [Job] was (ch. 1-2), but we wonder also that a good man should be so impatient as he is in this chapter, where we find him cursing his day.”
Matthew Henry did not think he was being too harsh on Job for he too knew much about physical and mental suffering. Being born prematurely, Matthew Henry was baptized the next day lest he die without the sign of the covenant. In grace, he survived infancy to reach maturity, and to experience great personal sorrow to include the death of his beloved wife, and the death of several children. One of the little ones to perish was Elizabeth.
On July 19, 1692, Elizabeth was gently carried by angels from the arms of her earthly father to the bosom of her heavenly Father. Her days of suffering were soon over and she was safe in the arms of Jesus. Bowed down with sorrow like Job, Matthew Henry did not hide his grief. “In the morning I had the child in my arms, endeavoring solemnly to give her up to God, and to bring my heart to His will; and presently there seemed some reviving. But while I was writing this, I was suddenly called out of my closet. I went for the doctor, and brought him with me; but, as soon as we came in, the sweet baby quietly departed between the mother’s arms and mind, without any struggle, for nature was spent by its long illness; and now my house is a house of mourning. She was a pretty, forward child, and very apprehensive; she began to go and talk, and observe things very prettily.
In his soliloquy, Job will complain that he was ever born (3:1-10), complain that he did not die as soon as he was born (3:11-19) and complain that his life was extended to endure in misery (3:20-26). There came a time when Job cursed his day. He did not curse his God, but he did curse his grievous state of existence. He did not charge God with foolishness, but Job did succumb to wishing he were dead.
Some scholars believe that by cursing his day, Job sinned. Personally, I am not so sure that wishing to escape a life of torture is a sin. Pain is hideous and all too horrible. A longing to be free from physical agony is only natural.
What is sin is when wrong thoughts are excused.
What is sin is when inappropriate attitudes are not challenged.
What is sin is when wrong speech is justified.
While your decide this matter for yourself as to whether or not Job sinned with his mouth, he was the first to speak.
His friends were wise enough to keep silent and let Job say something first.
They had come to comfort him because they really did care for him, but they also secretly suspected Job of being a hypocrite. Therefore, they said nothing. Perhaps they too had mothers who had taught them as children, “If you cannot say something nice about another person, say nothing at all.” That is still good motherly counsel even if it is seldom honored.
In time the friends of Job would have a lot to say about this whole situation. They would say many unkind things in the heat of an unfolding religious debate, but for the moment they remained silent and let Job speak first. “And Job spoke and said, Let the day perish where-in I was born.”
Usually, the day of one’s birth is a blessed day. There is joy and happiness. Pride swells up in the heart. Hopes and dreams are considered. Cigars are passed out by some. Handshakes are exchanged. “I have a new boy!” “I am the father of a new girl!” There are smiles for everyone, until the hospital bills come.
So, it is a tragic thing to hear a man cursing the day that he was born. But it does happen. And Job is not alone in his sentiments. The Bible tells us that the pain and pressures of life caused the prophet Jeremiah to cry out, “Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me!” (Jer. 15:10). “Cursed be the day wherein I was born” (Jer. 20:14).
Not only do some of the saints come to curse the day of their birth, so do sinners. It was just a few weeks ago that the body of a 33-year-old man was discovered in the hull of a ship off the coast of Galveston, Texas. It was the body of my nephew. Though rushed to a hospital upon discovery, it was too little too late.
He was already brain dead.
He had lived too fast and too furiously.
He had abused alcohol and drugs.
He died suddenly having wasted his substance with riotous living.
The gospel he heard as a child was rejected in favor of cocaine and a lifestyle of existential chaos. I doubt if my nephew ever really knew many happy days in life. “Cursed be the day of his birth.”
The same could be said of others, such as Judas Iscariot. In fact, Jesus did say in Matthew 26:24 that, “It had been good for that man if he had not been born.”
While individuals may curse the day of their natural birth, no one has ever cursed the day of their new birth. For all eternity there will be a measure of thanksgiving for what God has wrought in the heart. The soul that has been saved from the penalty, the power and the pollution of sin wants to give glory and honor to the Lord for time and eternity. This truth is reflected in a letter that was received in response to a man reading one of my works on Church history. Willie Lamphins of Jay, Florida writes,
I don’t know whose name to use to say, “Thank you,” so I’ll say, “Mt. Zion, I thank you.” I’m not big on words. So, I can say it the best I can…. God has really done wonder in my faith. Because I do believe. Thank you so much. Willie Lamphins
Many years ago, John W. Peterson was gloriously converted to Christ and he wrote of the day he was born from above.
“O what a wonderful, wonderful day,
Day I will never forget;
After I’d wandered in darkness away,
Jesus my Saviour I met.
O what a tender, compassionate Friend—
He met the need of my heart;
With joy I am telling,
He made all the darkness depart!
Heaven came down and glory filled my soul,
When at the cross the Savior made me whole;
My sins were washed away
And my night was turned to day—
Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!”
Though Job cursed the day of his birth, though Job complained that he did not die, though Job cried out against a life of pain, he did not curse, nor complain, nor cry forever. Satan did not get the ultimate advantage over him as he said he would. Job never stopped loving God. And God never charged Job with sin. What the Lord did do was come and speak to his faithful servant (Job 40:1-42). For now, consider these truths.
Suffering will always be a part of the Christian experience. In Genesis we read of the brutal murder of righteous Cain, and in the book of the Revelation we read of John, a fellow servant in tribulation. Charles Spurgeon once said that if you want to find God’s people then look for them in the furnace. Enoch walked with God in an evil generation. Noah was laughed at for he built a ship on dry ground. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were tried as the people of God. Israel was found in Egypt, the land of bondage. David was put in the furnace of Divine affliction as he wandered about in the caves of the wilderness. Elijah had to flee from the vengeance of Jezebel. The list is as long as the Church era.
The reasons for suffering are many.
Suffering confirms the covenant. (Gen. 3:15; 15:17).
Suffering reveals the true value of the soul. All precious things have to be tried. Diamonds must be cut. Gold must pass through the crucible and silver must be drained of dross.
Suffering conforms us into the image of Christ. It purifies us. Psa 119:67 Before I was afflicted, I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. Psa 119:71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. Psa 119:75 I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
Suffering makes us ready to be molded much like metal can only be molded after it is liquefied in the furnace.
Suffering allows God to do greater things through us. Joni Erikson would never have had the world-wide ministry God has entrusted into her care if many years ago she had not gone swimming one day, jumped into the Chesapeake Bay and broken her neck. A Scottish-born machinist was blinded in an industrial accident. He made a vow that if he ever regained his sight he would devote himself to the inventions of Nature. And regain his sight he did. In the 1880’s he became the country’s first environmentalist and fought tirelessly to preserve the matchless beauty of places like Yellowstone and Yosemite Valley. With his passion and commitment, John Muir helped establish the world’s first national parks, and gave us a vision of the beauty that surrounds us all.
Suffering proves our election as per Isaiah 48:10. “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” says the Lord.
Not all who suffer are Christians. There are trials in the pathway of the ungodly as well. There are troubles that the unrighteous must suffer as members of a fallen race under the curse of Divine judgment. This point needs to be stated in order to invite individuals to consider, and then flee from the final judgment of eternal damnation. In other words, the trials of time may be but a preview of the pit of hell. The saints can look forward to ultimate relief from all forms of misery. They are going to heaven. They are going to a place where there is no more pain, no more sorrows, and no more tears. But there is no rest for the wicked, says my God. Even if they know troubles in this world, they will know greater tragedy in the world to come—unless they find Divine relief in Christ.