Grief without Anger

Job 3:1 “Afterward Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.”

Observation: Job had just experienced a series of catastrophes that could cause any of us to live as though in a darkened cave. His dearest family members, financial resources, even his own health, have all been lost. And in the depths of that darkness he curses the day of his birth. His cursing is creative, comprehensive, and continues on for another twenty-one verses when he ends by saying how great will be his exultation when he finally finds the grave!

Application: Have I not had a similar reaction in the midst of great loss? Job’s response to the devastation of his life is understandable. When I experienced my own devastation, did I not long for the grave, or at least a soft bed in which I could hide with heavy covers pulled over my head? There is in such yearning the confidence that once I have reached the grave, the interminable grieving of life can finally cease; I will at last be in a place beyond the reach of pain and sadness.

But notice what Job did not exhibit. Where is his anger, his outrage, his ranting against the unfairness of a sovereign God who visits such catastrophes upon him? Those are simply not found within this passage. For the believer, departure from this life means entrance into God’s magnificence, a place of unimaginable colors and patterns, fragrances and sounds, the place of His warm embrace.

What this brings to mind is the apostle Paul’s admonition that I am to become dead to offenses, laying down “rights” that I might enter into the fullness of His life (see Col. 3:5). Anger borne of an attitude that says, “I don’t deserve such things to happen to me,” reflects a prideful heart. Indeed, it would show how ill-prepared I am to enter into His eternal rest. But there is none of that in today’s passage. Job finds myriad ways of expressing the depths of his pain and remorse, yet he consistently avoids the “why me?” whine to which the prideful heart naturally inclines. His response is a magnificent one for me to consider. God would be surprised neither by anger nor by groaning in the midst of loss, but surely one who can grieve yet not blame is nearer to that blessed place of knowing again the favor of the Lord.

Prayer: Father, how my heart longs for life to be only “good” as I define good. I hate loss; I find myself dragging through days of recovery, longing to simply be united with You and separated once and for all from the painful places of this life. Yet You, in Your wisdom and sovereignty, have placed me on this path to teach me of You, to mold me more into the image of Your dear Son. Give me gladness of heart in Your testing, that I might not despise Your disciplines.

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