STUDY FIVE: IT’S OKAY TO CRY

© Rosemary Bardsley 2020

We do not know how much time elapsed between chapters one and two; nor do we know how much time goes by between the suffering in chapter two and Job’s lament in chapter three. But we do know that three friends decided to journey some distance to see him.

Read 2:11 – 13. What do we learn about these three friends?
Their names and ethnicity

 

Their purpose in coming to visit Job

 

What happened when they first saw him

 

How they expressed their grief

 

Why they did not talk to him

 

It was after seven silent days in the company of his friends that Job talked about how he was feeling. And we learn here that faith does not result in loss of feeling. Knowing God is sovereign does not make suffering any less painful. The person of faith is not a super human stoic, untouched and unmoved by the stresses, strains, struggles and suffering of human life.

 

A. OUT OF THE DEPTHS

An alien, unwanted, unexplainable situation has crashed down upon Job, and it hurts. Out of the depths of his agony he speaks in the hearing of his friends.

Read Job 3:1 – 23. What does Job say about:
The day he was born?

 

His birth?

 

 

Why death in his mother’s womb would have been preferable to his life as it now is?

 

The seeming pointlessness of human life?

 

His feeling of isolation?

 

 

How realistic are Job’s words?
Have you ever had similar thoughts about your existence or that of a loved one?

 

Have you or a loved one ever been in a situation where to have died at birth seemed preferable to life?

 

Have you ever felt that your life, or that of a loved one, had so much agony in it that it seemed pointless?

 

Read Job 3:24 – 26.
How does Job describe the thoughts and feelings that made him wish he had been born dead?
Verse 24:

Verse 25:

Verse 26:

What do you think he meant by these descriptions?

 

Have you ever felt the same way?

 

 

B. WHAT DO WE LEARN FROM THIS CHAPTER?

How is this chapter relevant to us today? What can we learn from it to help us cope with our suffering?

[1] People of faith do not escape suffering; we are still in this world, a world of sin, death and suffering, from which we will not be separate until Christ returns. Let us not expect to be free from suffering - from sickness, accidents, disasters.

[2] People of faith are not called upon to be super-human in these situations (see 6:12); we are like everyone else made of flesh and blood; and we are perhaps more than other people, sensitive to the incongruity and the alien nature of suffering, the wrongness of suffering, in a world created by God.

[3] Remember that people who love most lay themselves most open to hurt. If we fail to feel pain when we consider the evil in the world, let us ask ourselves: have we also ceased to love - both God and our neighbour?

People of faith then, are not, and should not expect to be, super human stoics. Like Christ, though to a far lesser degree, and never as a substitutionary offering, the believer bears, with great agony and suffering, the burden of the sin of the world.

As part of this: the person of faith is allowed to cry. In their own suffering. And in the suffering of the world.

 

C. WHAT JOB IS NOT SAYING

In what Job says there is no thought of suicide or euthanasia. Nor is there any such thought right through the book. Yes. Here he wishes he had not been born alive. Yes. Later he longs for death to come, and tells us why he does so. But he never expresses any thought of taking his own life, or of asking someone else to assist him to end his life. He knows that life and death are in God’s hands. If anyone is to take his life it has to be God. As he sees it, from his faith perspective, only God has that right.