Job 3:1-26 / 1 Peter 1:3-9
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, (14) With kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves; (15) Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver: (16) Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light. (17) There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest. (18) There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor. (19) The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master. (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? (24) For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters. (25) For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. (26) I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.
1 Peter 1:3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
There is a phrase I use when referring to the knee-jerk replies so much of American Evangelicalism offers those who are going through intense seasons of pain. I call these replies “catchphrase Christianity.” Catchphrase Christianity is swift to provide canned answers to all the situations of life. Having a bad day? No worries, “God’s got this!” Need some direction in life? Relax! “Jesus is my co-pilot!” Dealing with intense stress or worry? “Try Jesus! Satan will always take you back!” Pat answers and cute slogans, loaded and ready for immediate delivery, make light of the real trials of life, mingling bits of Scripture with not-so-quaint, even sappy, sentimentality. Catch Phrase Christianity concerns itself with quick and easy fixes and zippy one-liner solutions to all of life’s issues.
Unfortunately, most people who feed on a steady diet of this emaciated and faulty perversion of the Christian faith find out in due course just how sorry and hollow it truly rings. Certainly, “Jesus is my co-pilot!” seems witty and sufficient when one’s car hydroplanes yet spins safely to the curb. But when a man loses his entire family to a drunk driver, or a helicopter goes down in a ball of fire while carrying a couple of newly weds, catchphrase Christianity shows itself for what it is: threadbare and shallow.
The catchphrase Christianity of American Evangelicalism fails to apprehend any reason why God would have His people undergo trials and seasons of suffering. It sees pain and tragedy as interlopers, bumps on the otherwise easy-going Christian road, a thing to be put away quickly so that the believer can “get the victory” and move on to the next mountain-top experience.
Job’s third chapter gives the reader twenty six verses of lamentation and grief, an uncomfortable insider’s view into the mind of a man who is in the midst of intense and unrelenting pain and suffering. At this point in Job’s life, there is quite literally nothing left of the man he once was. His countenance disfigured by his afflictions, he sat on a pile of ashes and mourned the very day of his birth. Everything that Job could have imagined going wrong had done just that. He was beset on all sides by his greatest fears.
I ask you, what convenient fix-it-all slogan does one employ to cure of all Job’s ills? Which arrow from the quiver of bumper sticker quips will be effective at quieting all of the his strife? Truth is, Job’s trials are the stuff of real life lived in a fallen world, reminding each of us that life is at times littered with problems, tragedies, and crises that we will never fully understand or be able to overcome with a one-liner from a devotional book or a smart gospel song.
Our Lord chooses in His good time to set His people deep into seasons of testing. And these times are used of the Lord to mold and teach His people. These seasons humble His people. These seasons correct His people. These seasons are employed so that we may learn, if only in the most introductory fashion, to identify with Christ and his sufferings. Yet, as Job’s lamentation so abundantly bears witness, we will not always have clear insight as to why the Lord chooses the means He employs, especially as the fires of trial burn bright and hot.
Job’s pain is on full public display. He openly questions his own existence, cursing the day he was ever born. His earthly despair. laid bare, Job understands that the answers to his questions are not to be found in the wisdom of men. He curses everything about his own life and even longs for the sweet release of death, when all of a man’s problems become someone else’s problems. In this earthly despair, Job sinned against God – as do we all. But we do not see Job plummeting into heavenly despair. He never curses God to His face as Satan desired.
In this there is hope for the believer in Christ. No fire can transform gold into dross, beloved. Those who are in Christ will suffer. Yet, we shall also reign with Him! Scripture reminds us that salvation is the work of Christ alone. His blood has satisfied God’s wrath against us for all time. We can take solace in the abiding truth and efficacy of God’s mighty keeping hand! Sorrow of the deepest variety may last for the night, but joy, oftentimes hard-fought joy, comes in the morning! Praise God forevermore!
Storms will come, mighty waves will roll, the harsh winds of circumstance shaking us, at times, to the very core. Yet we, poor and needy sinners all, have a sure and steadfast hope in Christ, the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. Job looked forward to this Redeemer, his last remaining hope. Even in the midst of hell on earth, knowing the Redeemer is enough. Knowing Christ has gone your way is a joy worth much more than rubies! Knowing the Redeemer in the full pardon of your sins is always enough!