“After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.” (Job 3:1)
There is a subtle difference between mourning and self-pity. Whereas mourning is an emotional response to loss, when we wallow in our mourning for too long, it can easily and subtly devolve into self-pity. Self-pity is the subtlest and I dare say the most egregious manifestation of pride that we can experience because the focus of our heart turns inward upon ourselves and our own perceived merits or elevated injustices.
If you recall in Job 2:13, as Job’s friends sat with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights, nobody spoke a word to him. There was silence within the suffering, but a silence that brought comfort. But the silence was broken when “Job opened his mouth.” He didn’t open his heart to receive comfort. He didn’t open his mind to receive instruction. He opened his mouth to “curse the day of his birth.” Not only did he curse the day of his birth, but he cursed the night of his own conception.
In the third chapter of Job, our protagonist uses the first person pronoun 16 times over 26 verses. He only mentions the Lord God Adonai twice, and both times in a self-centered, almost accusative manner, as if God made a mistake in creating him. In essence Job’s eyes and heart moved from blessing God in the midst of his suffering to cursing Him for the sovereign act of creation.
Just as humility is the lens through which we see ourselves and God for who we really are, pride is the lens that blinds and distorts our vision of reality. When our circumstances do not line up with our vision, too often our initial response is to either rebuke / blame Satan or wallow in self-pity instead of opening our hearts and asking God “What will you have me learn from this?” Two principles we should be reminded of are these:
- Satan can do nothing to us unless God first permits it. Remember, Satan could do nothing to Job at all until God granted His sovereign permission. So in effect, when we rebuke or blame Satan for our circumstances, we are ultimately accusing God rather than drawing closer to His hand of comfort and rejecting His test of our faithfulness.
- We forget that Satan has no influence over us other than what we allow. Satan’s goal is the same as it has always been from the beginning – to separate us from our relationship with our Creator. He will tempt us in many different ways, but ultimately it is his knowledge of our hearts that will determine how he will succeed. Dr. Gary Rosberg once remarked “The enemy will lie in wait for years just to find a small weakness in your armor.” And the most subtle of weaknesses that we all have is pride. It was the sin of pride that was stoked in the Garden with the original sin. It is the sin of pride that ultimately leads to Job’s own downfall.
Instead of wallowing in defeat, live in victory. Sing from the victory that is already won upon the cross of Calvary. The simplicity of the Christian life and the rallying cry to adjust our vision is echoed by the prophet Micah: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8 ESV) To paraphrase in my own feeble words: “Obey God’s Word, treat people with loving kindness, and live in a right relationship with the Lord God Adonai.”
Nowhere in God’s Word does He ever say to live “under the circumstances.” In fact, He is always encouraging us to rise above our circumstances and look to Him for guidance and strength. In the words of the apostle Paul: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.'[Psalm 44:22] No, in all these things we are more than conquerers THROUGH HIM WHO LOVED US.” (Romans 8:35-37)
Please listen closely to the words of the attached song from Austin Stone Worship “Singing in the Victory”:
“I will not be anxious, Jesus, You are near
The Peace of God surrounding me, and casting out all fears
The hand that holds the heavens, is the mighty hand that saves
The voice that calms the stormy seas
Is calling me by name
I’m singing in the victory, the victory of the cross
I’m resting in the shadow, of Your redeeming love
I’m standing on the promise, the promise of new life
‘Cause I am Yours forever, and Jesus, You are mine
Oh Jesus, You are mine”