The Dark Side
It doesn’t matter how you try to sympathize with and rationalize Job’s dark mood. From the minute he opens his mouth, most Christians start to squirm with distaste and turn away in disgust and contempt. (It has been said that Christians are the only army that sacrifices its wounded). The thing we hate the most is all this doom-and-gloom death-talk, this longing not just to die but for total annihilation, not just to stop existing but to never have existed before. Good Christians do not want to listen to this kind of talk. We just feel that Job is wrong—terribly wrong—to “curse the day of his birth.” We don’t want to consider the possibility such ghastly and despairing words could actually come out of the mouth of a believer in God, let alone by someone with a reputation for exemplary sanctity.
So it is not just Job’s wife and friends who pass judgment on him; we do too. We are inclined to dismiss and reject him, or else to stick our fingers in our ears, yell “Na, na, na, I’m not listening,” and pretend he doesn’t know what he is saying. Maybe he isn’t such a great and holy guy after all. Think about it, as soon as things get bad enough, he starts whining, cursing, and crying in his cup. He is just like any old drunk in a bar crying in his drink. Evidently, the Devil was right about him all along. When the pressure gets too great, he caves in and loses his faith.
In all honesty, however, as black and turbulent as Job’s thoughts are, are they essentially any different from our innermost thoughts? On the other hand, is the real difference that Job voices his thoughts and we hide ours? It is obvious he states whatever is on his mind, things we feel probably should not be said, although we have the same thoughts gnawing away in our minds. The Story of Job brings these thoughts out into the open. They shockingly appear on the lips of a decent and upright man.
Being a believer in God by necessity implies grappling with the dark side of our nature. However, many of us seem to be afraid of this dark side. Instead of dealing with it realistically, we repress and deny it. If we do this consistently, we have to ask ourselves whether we believe in the healing power of Christ’s forgiveness and in His victory over our evil natures. Maybe we have never come to grips with the fact that we, in ourselves, are evil. If not, then we will never be prepared for those times when believing in God is like being awake during open heart surgery. God is not finished with us yet; He is still creating us, still making us into His image. As followers of Jesus, we have the strange privilege of actually being wide-awake as He continues to fashion us, to watch wide-eyed as His very own fingers work within our hearts. This can be a painful process, and there is no anesthetic for it. Then again, maybe the only anesthetic is trust—trust in the Surgeon. However, trust is not a passive thing; it is only mistrust, fear, and suspicion that keep silent.
We shouldn’t blame Job for giving voice to feelings that in most of us come out in other ways. He says out loud that he despises the day of his birth, and while most of us would never admit to thinking such a thought, let alone voicing it, don’t we often live as though it were true? Whenever we grumble and complain, whenever we do anything unwillingly, whenever we say a bad word against someone else—aren’t we, in effect, despising the day of our birth? We are being openly and rebelliously critical of God’s gracious gift of life. Even in the face of the tiniest frustrations, our reactions may betray the presence of a lingering resentment over the fact that we were ever created and brought into such a hard world in the first place.
Only the person who maintains an attitude of pure and unwavering thankfulness for every precious moment that the Lord has given, has any right to say a word of criticism against Job in Chapter 3.
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