Is It Better To Die?
A daily devotion for December 4th
1 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 it was said, 'A boy is born!'
4 That day—may it turn to darkness;
may God above not care about it;
may no light shine upon it.
5 May darkness and deep shadow claim it once more;
may a cloud settle over it;
may blackness overwhelm its light.
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 counselors of the earth,
who built for themselves places now lying in ruins,
15 with rulers who had gold,
who filled their houses with silver.
16 Or why was I not hidden 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 slave is freed from his master.
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 comes to me instead of 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."
After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. (Job 3:1)
In this chapter we find that Job asks three very poignant questions. The first one is,
Why was I ever born? Job hopes his birthday will be forgotten. He is looking back to the day of his birth, and, although he cannot change it, he is saying,
May its anniversary be ignored. Let it be a day that is darkened; let no one rejoice in it. Let it be a day of cursing instead of blessing. The reason for Job's outcry is this was the day he was born, the day that produced him. You can see at this point how his life has become so miserable that he longs for death. Even all that he has enjoyed in the past seems of no value in the face of this tremendous anguish that he must endure.
Although Job comes very close to cursing God, he never does. He does curse the day of his birth, and he curses what God has allowed to happen. You can see how the pressure is increasing, and Job is beginning to break and crumble under it, as this unceasing, unexplained anguish goes on.
I do not think anything is harder for us to bear than unexplained trouble. If we could see some reason for what we have to go through, we could endure it much more easily. But when trouble seems to be pointless, it is a terrible strain on the soul. This is what Job is experiencing, so he cries out,
Why was I ever born?
His second question is,
Having been born, why didn't I die at birth? He says,
My life has been totally meaningless. It would have been better to have died when I was born. Job views death as a time of rest, a period of solitude and quiet after the tumult and trouble of life. I think many people see death that way. These verses indicate that Job's understanding of life after death needs to be enlightened a great deal, and that is one of the reasons this suffering came into his life. At the end of the book, Job's view of death is quite different than it was at the beginning.
Job's third question is,
Why can't I die now? Job's argument is,
What's the purpose of my life? Of what use is a life that is so filled with misery that you can do nothing but suffer and feel anguish? My life produces only fear and trouble, so it would be better to end it now. Many people feel that way. I do not think Job is thinking of suicide--he is asking God to take him home. There is no purpose to life, he says, when it is not enjoyable. That is a very common argument, and one of the reasons we have been given this book is to help us understand that life can still have a great deal of meaning, even when it looks absolutely useless.
I thank You, Lord, that though I can't always see the reason for my suffering, You are at work through it.
Life Application: Do we see our lives as giving us the right to demand our own self-centered agenda, or do we receive Life thankfully, as a gift? How do we bear unexplained trouble?
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