Honest to God

Steven Bouma-Prediger

READ : Job 3:1-26

“Why did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb and expire?” (v. 11)

Can a righteous man really do this? Curse the day he was born? Wish that he had died at the moment of his birth? Job does not follow the advice of his wife and curse God, but he does curse the day of his birth. Because of his terrible suffering—loss of wealth, family, and health—Job wishes he had never been born. Better, he exclaims, to be dead, where the weary are at rest. Better to be a stillborn infant who never saw the light of day. Why is life given to one who longs for death, whose groanings are poured out like water?

This is strong language. But from where Job sits, gloom covers everything. Darkness reigns and God seems far away. Some would say that such raw and honest speech is impious. To wish one were dead is somehow, they believe, a sign of little faith. But roughly one-third of the psalms are psalms of lament. Much of our biblical prayer book is honest-to-God talk of how we really feel when bad things happen. Job reminds us that God is big enough to handle whatever we need to say.


Hear our prayers, O Lord, and the groanings of our heart. Keep not your Holy Spirit from us but give us solace and strength in trying times.