Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
The cycle of silliness begins with Job’s wife. The one who ought to know him better than anyone else; the one who shares his sufferings in a way that no one else can should know how speak comfort to him or, at least, to commiserate with him. But she does not. Rather than sitting with him in silence, as his three friends do when they first arrive, or empathizing with his pain — which is also her own pain, in many ways — she looks at her husband suffering in silence and tells him to just curse God and die. Worst. Advice. Ever.
In fairness to her, she is hurting. Her children have all died and the wealth that she had seen her husband work to amass was gone. To top it all off, she sees her husband in physical pain. Everything that they had worked to build as a couple as gone. Everything except their marriage. I wonder if they fell into the trap of marrying, then focusing on building everything except their marriage. I wonder if they are one of those couples I often hear about who struggles to find things in common when the children are gone.
Then I see Job’s response to her. Even in his suffering, he does not look to cause her injury. I know that I am wont to lash out at others who say such foolish things when I am hurting. Curse God? God is the only One not talking nonsense. Die? While it might seem like a reprieve from the suffering, but suffering and pain are temporary states and joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). The permanent state of God’s children is joy and peace. And Job seems to know this. David later writes that he would have lost hope if he had not believed that he would see the goodness of God in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13). It seems that Job is also clinging to the hope of seeing God’s goodness in the land of the living. Job tells his wife that her words are foolish. This is not an indictment against her or an impugning of her character, but a judgment of her words. She is talking nonsense. He goes on to remind her that the good things they had — children, health, wealth — all came from God. Should they take good from God’s hand and not also accept suffering?
Paul writes later that the sufferings and accompanying comfort of Christ are ours (1 Corinthians 1:5) and Peter encourages believers that the sufferings of Christ come with the glory of Christ (1 Peter 4:3; 5:1). Suffering is part and parcel of the human experience and perhaps more so for those who wish to follow Christ. Jesus did, after all, tell us to take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24; Luke 9:23).
Since I know that life will include times of suffering and also know that there will be people — maybe even those nearest and dearest to me — who will talk nonsense in those times of suffering, let me seek to focus on God and accepting everything as coming from His hand. My suffering is not necessarily what He would prefer for me (I am quite certain that He would conform me to the image of Christ without suffering if such a thing were possible), but nothing happens to me without His clearance. And let me remember that what people say is not necessarily the same as who they are — they might be suffering alongside me and speaking from their own pain. Job did not condemn his wife as a foolish woman, but her words as foolish words. He spoke truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Father, I confess that I become distracted when I suffer. I see the pain and the difficulty and lose sight of You and Who You are. I lose sight of Your expressed purpose: to conform me to the image of Your Son. As the saying goes, only One Son have You without sin, but none without sorrow. Suffering will come. Please change me in the times of suffering that I might endure in such a way as to be found faithful and to bring glory and honor to Your Name.