Fellowship of Suffering: Job’s pity party

“After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. And Job spake, and said,
Let the day perish wherein I was born,
And the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.
Let that day be darkness;
Let not God regard it from above,
Neither let the light shine upon it.
Let darkness and the shadow of death ||stain it;
Let a cloud dwell upon it;
Let the blackness of the day terrify it.
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.
Lo, let that night be solitary,
Let no joyful voice come therein.
Let them curse it that curse the day
Who are ready to raise up their mourning.
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:
Because it shut not up the doors of my mother’s womb,
Nor hid sorrow from mine eyes.
Why died I not from the womb?
Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?
Why did the knees prevent me?
Or why the breasts that I should suck?
For now should I have lain still and been quiet
I should have slept: then had I been at rest,
With kings and counsellers of the earth,
Which built desolate places for themselves;
Or with princes that had gold,
Who filled their houses with silver:
Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been;
As infants which never saw light.
There the wicked cease from troubling;
And there the weary be at rest.
There the prisoners rest together;
They hear not the voice of the oppressor.
The small and great are there;
And the servant is free from his master.
Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery
And life unto the bitter in soul;
Which long for death, but it cometh not;

And dig for it more than for hid treasures;
Which rejoice exceedingly, And are glad, when they can find the grave?
Why is light given to a man whose way is hid,
And whom God hath hedged in?
For my sighing cometh before I eat,
And my roarings are poured out like the waters.
For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me,
And that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet;
Yet trouble came.”[1]

                Job chapter three may very well be the most depressing chapter in all the Word of God. Very few sermons are preached on this chapter. Think about it. When was the last time you heard a sermon preached on Job 3? As a matter of fact, Job’s ‘pity party’ goes against all that we believe as Christians about life and death. If Job was not a believer, his words would not bother us as much. However, knowing the kind of man that Job was, his words are quite depressing.

                After we learn of Job’s tremendous suffering and we are introduced to his three friends, who supposedly came to give him comfort, we see Job finally opening his mouth after seven days and nights of mourning. One would think that after such a length of time to meditate on his plight, Job’s words would not have been so depressing. Yet, there is really no encouragement or help from Job’s words in chapter three in relation to how we deal with suffering. However, there are a few spiritual nuggets that we can gather that does provide some guidance in how we navigate suffering.

                A ‘pity party’ is never productive. The Summarized Bible says, “Pity thyself is the devil’s most popular sermon to one who will listen to him, for he delights to embitter the saint by causing him to misunderstand God’s providences.”[2] Have you ever had a pity party? Surely not you! Seriously, we all have pity parties from time to time. Job is not the only example of a pity party in the Bible. What about Jonah? Remember how he complained about preaching to the Ninevites and then when they repented, he sat outside the city and pouted. He even complained when God took away the shade tree that was placed there by God for Jonah’s comfort. We’ve all had such pity parties. Unfortunately, for most of us, those pity parties come with regularity. However, Job’s pity party did nothing to ease his suffering or remedy the situation. A pity party is never productive. Most of our pity parties makes our suffering even worse. Most of the time there is nothing that we can really do about our suffering. There may not be a remedy. Therefore, why should we pout about it? When we have a ‘woe is me’ attitude, it only adds to our suffering, and it does nothing to bring relief.

                When you are hurting it is best to stay silent. If you are going through some form of suffering whether it be physical pain or emotional pain; it is easy for us to say or do things that we don’t really mean. This is why we must show grace to those who may say something rude or hurtful to us. There is no excuse for such behavior, however, when someone acts out it is usually because they are hurting on the inside. “When you are hurting, you may say and do a lot of things that you later regret.”[3] Job said some things that he probably did not mean to say. He spoke out of his pain rather than out of wisdom. Warren Wiersbe says, “Job’s suffering was so great that he forgot the blessings that he and his family had enjoyed for so many years. Had he never been born, he would never have been the greatest man in the East! But pain makes us forget the joys of the past; instead, we concentrate on the hopelessness of the future.”[4] We have all said things that we regret when we were going through a hard time. In those moments we should seek a trusted friend to whom we can ‘vent’ our feelings without any judgement so that we can avoid hurting others or setting a bad example to others.

                Your life matters. Job cursed the day of his birth. Looking back, I am sure Job may have been embarrassed that he made such a claim. It is a foolish thing to curse the day you were born. Think about it. What if there was no you? What if you never existed? In the classic ‘It’s a wonderful life’, George Bailey found himself wishing he was never born. An angel was sent to show him what life would have been like if he had never been born. Everything was totally different. If George Bailey never existed, then it would have created a chain reaction that affected the lives of many people. When you find yourself having a pity party and wishing you was never born, stop and think about the people in your life and the things that you are involved in and the things that you do. Be encouraged that your life matters. If you were never born, then others around you would not have the life that they have. Your life does count, and it does matter.

                Focus on your new birth. “Though many, because of distrust, have cursed the day of their birth, yet no one ever curses the day of their “new birth” nor wishes they had never found Christ as their Saviour.”[5] Think about it. Do you know of anyone who has truly been saved, wish they were never born again? When you find yourself having a pity party due to your suffering, remind yourself of your new birth. Remember the day when you accepted Jesus as your Savior. It was the best day of your life. It was the best decision that you ever made. The benefits of knowing Jesus as your Savior far outweighs any amount of suffering you may endure.

                God’s way is always the best way. Though we may never know why we suffer, we must understand that God’s way is always the best way. I love what the Summarized Bible says, “Remember that God’s worst is better than the devil’s best and if our circumstances find us in God, we shall find God in all our circumstances.”[6] If we are living our lives for the Lord and trouble comes our way, we can rest assured that God is there, and He will not abandon us. We may never know this side of Heaven the purpose for our suffering, but we should constantly remind ourselves that God knows what He is doing, and His way is always for our good and for His glory. When we are having a pity party, we must have a constant focus on God’s plan and purpose, understanding that His way is always the best way.

                We’ve all had pity parties. Sometimes when we are in such a state it is best that we are just left alone to wallow in our misery. However, we can’t stay there for long. We must be reminded of the reality of our life and our circumstances in light of our relationship with God. Remember, a pity party accomplishes nothing. Get your eyes on Jesus and focus on those things that really matter.

[1] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Job 3:1–26). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2] Brooks, K. (2009). Summarized Bible: Complete Summary of the Old Testament (p. 102). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Patient (p. 22). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Patient (p. 22). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[5] Brooks, K. (2009). Summarized Bible: Complete Summary of the Old Testament (p. 102). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[6] Brooks, K. (2009). Summarized Bible: Complete Summary of the Old Testament (p. 102). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

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