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Job's Lament No. 1: Why Has Everything Soured?

Published 7/16/19

After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. He said: "May the day of my birth perish, and the night it was said, 'A boy is conceived!' That day--may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine on it."


• When bad things happen, do you shake your fist at God--or lean into Him?

• Remember that Jesus has big arms. He understands our pain, our grief. He cares, and He's right there with us. Do you believe this? (Please explain.)

• Like Job, do you cry out to the Lord? Do you share your pain?

"Obliterate the day I was born. Blank out the night I was conceived! Let it be a black hole in space. May God above forget it ever happened. Erase it from the books! May the day of my birth be buried in deep darkness, shrouded by the fog, swallowed by the night" (Job 3:1-4 MSG).

Eugene H. Peterson perfectly captures Job's anguish in The Message, echoing what we might say if we had to endure his pain. "What's the point of life?" we may ask--just as Job did. "If this is how my life is going to be, then I wish I had never been born."

Others might shake an angry fist at God: "Why, Lord? Why would You do this to me?"

The happiness Job once savored because of God's favor was now gone, and his very existence had quickly turned into an intolerable burden. We see in verse 3 that he veered close to cursing God yet didn't do it. Job stopped short.

A few years back, I helplessly watched as cancer gradually stole my brother's life. Jerry battled the disease for nearly two years--twenty-four hellish months of blood tests, MRIs, CT scans, PET scans, simple X-rays, physical therapies. Poking. Probing. Jabbing. Injecting. He was constantly visiting chemical oncologists, radiologists, and pulmonologists; he underwent countless surgical procedures; and he spent thousands and thousands of dollars on drugs--some that appeared to do more harm than good, others that promised to be the "silver bullet" against cancer. Yet, despite an all-out medical assault, my once robust brother was steadily withering away--turning into a listless, emaciated patient--a victim of a terminal illness.

I had to accept what I'd tried hard to deny: Jerry was dying.

"I'm so sorry," I said to him as we talked by phone one evening. "I'm so very sorry. I think you can beat this. You've fought so hard."

"I'm tired, very tired." He paused and then spoke again, a bit more reflective. "I've tried to do some good in this life, to help people, to be there for them--"

"Yes, you have. You've been there for me."

"I don't think I'm going to make it."

"I'll keep praying."

"Pray. Yes--please do. And know that I love you. That's why I called. I just wanted to tell you that."

"I love you, too."

"I've got to hang up now. . .got to go."

"Good-bye, Jerry."


As my brother's name faded from the screen on my cell phone, I sat in disbelief. Is that it? Are those the last words I'll ever say to him?

Fortunately, I got to share a few more moments with him, even a priceless Thanksgiving visit I'll always hold in my heart. But I can't sugarcoat the last days of his life. They were painful--for Jerry and for those of us who watched him slip away. On one particular afternoon, my brother couldn't hold back his emotions. Unlike Job who stopped short of cursing God, Jerry crossed that line.

My heart melted.

Yet I sensed the Lord telling me, I've got this. I'm God, and Jerry is in My arms. I understand his pain. . .and I love him deeply.

Right there in that desperate moment, the truth of Romans 8:38-39 rang crystal clear: "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."


Lord, I praise Your holy name. I know You are with me and my loved ones. Draw us closer to You. Help me lean into You. Amen.


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