When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
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 that 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.
May gloom and utter darkness claim it once more;
may a cloud settle over it;
may blackness overwhelm it.
That night—may thick darkness seize it;
may it not be included among the days of the year
nor be entered in any of the months.
May that night be barren;
may no shout of joy be heard in it.
May those who curse days curse that day,
those who are ready to rouse Leviathan.
May its morning stars become dark;
may it wait for daylight in vain
and not see the first rays of dawn,
for it did not shut the doors of the womb on me
to hide trouble from my eyes.
“Why did I not perish at birth,
and die as I came from the womb?
Why were there knees to receive me
and breasts that I might be nursed?
For now I would be lying down in peace;
I would be asleep and at rest
with kings and rulers of the earth,
who built for themselves places now lying in ruins,
with princes who had gold,
who filled their houses with silver.
Or why was I not hidden away in the ground like a stillborn child,
like an infant who never saw the light of day?
There the wicked cease from turmoil,
and there the weary are at rest.
Captives also enjoy their ease;
they no longer hear the slave driver’s shout.
The small and the great are there,
and the slaves are freed from their owners.
- Job 2:11-3:19
To answer the title question, I provide this terse answer. No.
Oh, you want an explanation?!? O-o-o-o-K-a-a-a-ay.
Three weeks ago, or has it been four? My son said that his wife had several job interviews and there were networking connections with them, and she was sure to get a job immediately and he wanted our old car immediately. As I have expressed in other posts: Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part. But, in dragging my feet, it would hurt the grandchildren, and I love my son in spite of his “issues.” And our daughter-in-law is still looking, but some of the interviews have been promising, but still no job.
The first auto transport broker promised a truck within a week’s time. I parked our pristine ten-year-old car in front of the house for easy load onto the truck. The neighborhood vandals broke the light on the driver’s side mirror and broke the frame around the mirror – a signal to not park the park on THEIR street – so I parked the car back in the backyard. The broker never produced a truck.
I then went to a trucking company and they promised a slot on a truck, just like the airlines do. The truck never arrived on the scheduled day. I had to call to ask why the next day. They reluctantly said that the truck broke down and would be fixed by the end of the week. Again, I had driven the car to the front of the house, and then returned it to the backyard. Again by the end of that week, I drove the car around the house again. The trucking company’s truck must have still been broken down, because they brokered another company to take two smaller trucks to deliver the contracted loads. The smaller truck assigned for our car and two others broke down. After driving and parking the car a couple of times again, I decided to keep the car in the backyard until the truck arrived.
Then, the day before writing this, the trucker called and said he would be there in about an hour and a half. I ran to the backyard and the car would not crank. In December, I had the car tuned to perfection. I had replaced the tires in the Fall, along with the battery. The brakes were replaced in December along with the tune-up. The car had cranked on the first turn of the key for weeks. I had cranked and run the car until it was hot inside the car to keep the fluids from settling. Only failing to do so when the snow had completely engulfed the car for about a week.
There was no reason whatsoever that the car would not crank. I had jumper cables. I jumped the car from our new car. Nothing. It was not the brand new, and expensive, battery. I noted the alarm messages on the dash. The oil, engine, and battery lights were all on after the key was in the on position for a short time. The owner’s manual said nothing about that, later finding out from my mechanic friend that those stay on until the engine is running. I called the dealer and left a message. I called my favorite mechanic, but his phone rang off the wall. My wife was on her cellphone with her sister, the one who knows a lot about a lot of things, and she said it might be the smart key and that a particular hardware store chain sold them for much cheaper than the dealer would. I thanked her, but by now, I had between 15 and 45 minutes until the driver arrived and the nearest hardware store of that type was over 45 minutes away.
And after calling the trucking company, the car must be in driving condition, because the truck had no winch. I would either forfeit more than a thousand dollars to cancel the truck or there would be a hefty fee for rescheduling. All I said to myself was “loser, loser, loser.”
I am not great with memorizing laments, but I have used many of my own. As I stared at the three alarm lights, I asked God, “Why is everything so difficult? My entire life, I am the one that had to walk ten miles to school barefoot in deep snow, uphill, both ways. Why me? My brother and sister lived in the same house, and they walked downhill both ways, with shoes on and no snow – everyday a sunny day. WHY?!?!?!”
I hope you saw the obvious fallacies in that lament.
The sad thing is that I only copied a small portion of Job’s lament and it seemed everything in what he said in Job 3 had gone through my mind at that moment. Okay, the Leviathan rarely enters my mind, but…
Part of the problem is that we know little about how to read the book of Job. The first two chapters pose a challenge for Satan to get Job’s anger up enough to have Job curse God. Will Job be faithful? Instead, in Job 3, Job curses the day he was born. Job is portrayed in the first two chapters as being blameless. If Job existed and this is not an allegory, Job had sinned, but we will let that pass. From Job 3 until Job 38 when God speaks through a storm, directly to Job, the entirety of these chapters includes Job whining and his friends using every kind of bad argument about how Job was suffering due to his sin.
It is tragic that these chapters are quoted as often as they are, but it shows that people do suffer. The whining does us no good and the pop theology of his friends ranges from marginally maybe with huge exceptions to downright WRONG. Yet, whenever anyone has that season in their lives, their friends and family ask what sin is in their lives that needs to be repented. Come on! Read Job in its entirety in context and know that Job’s problems were not a result of his sin.
Yet, maybe this chosen lament by Job points to an issue that I need to release, let go, and try to forget. My sister is eleven years older than I am. My late brother was nine years and a few months older than I was. My Dad wanted more children, but my mother did not. My mother was stern and harsh with all three of us, but she bore a bit of resentment toward me for existing. It did not help that I was not a sports hero like my brother, and even with making good grades, I was not top in my class, so I was lazy and good-for-nothing in my mother’s eyes, at least what she expressed to me out loud. She crowed to others when I earned blue ribbons, Eagle Scout, and commissioned military officer, but even then, her closest thing to a compliment was “You could have done better. You have disappointed me again.” In those days, I have been told that was common practice in many households.
Then, almost by chance, to illustrate a post about how everything has gone wrong lately, I choose the Job lament about cursing his own birth. And even I say that there is no such thing as coincidences.
As I was still asking “Why?”, I requested to cancel the driver, accepting the monetary penalty, but the driver ignored that and showed up anyway. When I told him that the car would not crank, he insisted that it was the battery. He got a jump box out of his truck and the car started as I turned the key. We shut off the car, and it would not start again without the jump box. But I had already used jumper cables. It was not the battery.
It was God telling me that He was still in control, and I could whine like Job all I wanted. It would make no difference in who was in control and that when we needed Him He would be there.
I had given up. I called the dispatcher to redirect the driver, but God had other plans. Will the car crank upon arriving at our son’s home? It may. Even if it does, it needs to be checked out thoroughly before it can be relied upon. But I have never had a battery, on the hottest day so far this year, simply immediately quit. No hard cranking and then nothing. It went from perfect to nothing overnight.
And I asked Why?
And God answered, emphatically, “To show my Glory, for you, personally.”
And maybe the underlying story is that I have done a job well done, a faithful servant. I might not be as blameless as Job, but my birthday is not to be cursed either. I am a very special child of God, and I learned that I am still God’s child yesterday, in the midst of suffering and asking why.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.