We are pretty familiar with Job’s patience when he says: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21) after all the disaster that befell his family.
Also, later when he was smitten with horrible disease, when his wife invited him to curse God, Job said: “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10)
He’s pretty patient here at the beginning, but as time went on, Job began to have serious questions about why he was still alive in such a condition. It is interesting to see what he says, and it just wrings the heart.
1 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.4 Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it.5 Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.6 As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months.7 Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein.8 Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning.9 Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light, but have none; neither let it see the dawning of the day:10 Because it shut not up the doors of my mother’s womb, nor hid sorrow from mine eyes.11 Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?12 Why did the knees prevent me? or why the breasts that I should suck?13 For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest, . . . .20 Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul;21 Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures;22 Which rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find the grave?23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in? (Job 3:1-13, 20-23)
Job curses the day he was born and wonders why he didn’t die as a baby. He also wonders why God extends the life of those that live in misery, especially when they want to die.
How could Job refuse to curse God and then turn around and curse his own birthday? We know it shows the extremity to which he was pushed, but we can’t help but wonder if that was going too far. We want him to be stoic and strong all the way to the end, but he’s not.
I think maybe Job at first had some of the same notions as his friends had. I think he wondered if somehow somewhere in his life he had made a wrong decision that he was punished for. But in careful examination I suspect he eventually came to the conclusion that if he had to live his life over again, he would end up in the same place, doing the same things, and there was no way he could have escaped what he was suffering.
This led to the conclusion that it would have just saved a whole lot of pain and suffering if he had just died as a baby. After all, through continuing repentance he had kept himself that clean.
However, he doesn’t stay in this frame of mind for long. The ribbing his friends give him quickly pulls him out of that and gives him something else to focus on, namely pleading for God to reveal Himself so Job can argue his own case that what was happening to him was unjust.
One of the things I’ve figured out over a long period of pondering the story of Job is that the bad things that happened to Job could not remain unanswered in the eternal scheme of justice. There is the law of compensation; his undeserved suffering had to be answered with divine compensating blessings. And I imagine that same law works the same for us as well.