BE A GENUINE SELF
Lord, give me the grace to bear whatever You send my way.
Read JOB 3:1–26
3 After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. 2 He said:
3 “May the day of my birth perish,
and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’
4 That day—may it turn to darkness;
may God above not care about it;
may no light shine on it.
5 May gloom and utter darkness claim it once more;
may a cloud settle over it;
may blackness overwhelm it.
6 That night—may thick darkness seize it;
may it not be included among the days of the year
nor be entered in any of the months.
7 May that night be barren;
may no shout of joy be heard in it.
8 May those who curse days curse that day,
those who are ready to rouse Leviathan.
9 May its morning stars become dark;
may it wait for daylight in vain
and not see the first rays of dawn,
10 for it did not shut the doors of the womb on me
to hide trouble from my eyes.
11 “Why did I not perish at birth,
and die as I came from the womb?
12 Why were there knees to receive me
and breasts that I might be nursed?
13 For now I would be lying down in peace;
I would be asleep and at rest
14 with kings and rulers of the earth,
who built for themselves places now lying in ruins,
15 with princes who had gold,
who filled their houses with silver.
16 Or why was I not hidden away in the ground like a stillborn child,
like an infant who never saw the light of day?
17 There the wicked cease from turmoil,
and there the weary are at rest.
18 Captives also enjoy their ease;
they no longer hear the slave driver’s shout.
19 The small and the great are there,
and the slaves are freed from their owners.
20 “Why is light given to those in misery,
and life to the bitter of soul,
21 to those who long for death that does not come,
who search for it more than for hidden treasure,
22 who are filled with gladness
and rejoice when they reach the grave?
23 Why is life given to a man
whose way is hidden,
whom God has hedged in?
24 For sighing has become my daily food;
my groans pour out like water.
25 What I feared has come upon me;
what I dreaded has happened to me.
26 I have no peace, no quietness;
I have no rest, but only turmoil.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Hold thou my hand… / No dread of ill shall make my soul afraid / …and closer, closer draw me / To thy dear self, my hope, my joy, my all” (Fanny Crosby, 1820–1915).
Breaking a long week’s silence with three onlooking friends, Job finally speaks up. Some people may expect him to finally curse God, but Job only curses the day of his birth (3–10). In the prologue, the Hebrew word barak (“to bless”) is used to replace the Hebrew verb for cursing when the object is God, but here, when Job curses the day of his birth, the actual verbs for cursing—qalal (1) and arar (8)—are used directly.
Why does Job wish to delete this day from the calendar? It didn’t prevent him from being born to see his current troubles (10). In his curse, he asks for his birth day to be one of darkness and deep shadow (4a,5). For the night, he asks for thick darkness to take over (6). He also calls for an absence of light (4b,9) and joy (7). The wording “Let that day be darkness!” (4, NRSV) sounds like a reversal of “Let there be light” in Genesis 1:3, where God summons light on the first day of his creation.
Perhaps one may think that Job’s utterance is not so very different from cursing God. Although it approaches such an offense, Job has never actually done so, at least not directly. We may also question whether Job’s self-curse is consistent with his true faith. The confident and patient Job in the prologue has now become a desperate and troubled man. As Norman C. Habel puts it, Job’s curse “falls on a past event, which would appear to be irreversible” (The Book of Job: A Commentary). That means it will never literally be fulfilled. Job simply expresses his anguish by groaning about his devastating circumstances. Such innermost wrestling highlights another side of Job’s integrity—being genuine and honest about one’s own feelings.
Thank God for allowing us to be ourselves. Let’s lay ourselves bare before him without denial—whatever feelings, troubles and deep secrets lie within us.
Lord, I bless the day I was born because that was the beginning of my eventual rendezvous with You.