Editor’s Note: Pastor Scott Peterson is sharing daily devotions written by some of his favorite authors. The author’s biography and any notes by Pastor Scott are listed at the end of the devotion.
Monday, June 15
“Why did I not die at birth? Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should suck? Or why was I not as a hidden untimely birth, as infants that never see the light? Why is light given to him that is in misery, and life to the bitter in soul? Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, whom God has hedged in?”Job 3:11-23
Six whys arrows from the quiver of darkness have pierced the heart of Job, and now he lets his anger erupt in that aching, hollow word. With the turbulence of a volcano, Job’s hot whys tumble over each other. “Why was I not stillborn? Why did my father and mother pledge to care for me when this is the terrifying outcome? Why was I brought this far when the road leads to a dead-end?” Job sees himself as God’s tragic blunder. He asks to be blotted out.
Our first impulse may be to say, “How melodramatic, how untrue to my life!” But don’t we, too, know moments when we hurl our No! into the face of God? Aren’t there times of “too much,” when we feel trapped by the sheer weight of circumstance? If we don’t literally damn the day of our birth, don’t our complaints against God and our arguments with him become loud and angry within us? “I wish I’d never been born!” Or, if we don’t reject life outright, we may reject our own: “Why wasn’t I someone else?”
Surely no one of mature years is a stranger to Job’s wilderness of despair. One of the deadliest and most constant temptations is to live by negation rather than by affirmation, to withdraw from courageous participation and turn one’s face to the wall.
Job loses his head because he has given his heart. The intensity of his struggle is evidence of the depth of his commitment. Perhaps God takes more pleasure in the child who shakes a fist at heaven than in one who sulks and never looks up. I am reminded of a recent conversation with one whose faith I deeply respect. Frustrated this person said about God, “But lately I’ve mostly been yelling at him!” Job yells at God because he cares.
For us, there are still those reassuring words, “my servant,’ which Job couldn’t hear. There is the open road, blazed not by the courage of human heroes, but by the faithfulness of a loving God. To follow this road is to know that the heart’s adventure is not in human quest but in encounter with the divine.
This devotion is from Frost 1977.
Gerhard Frost (1909 – 1988) was a Lutheran Pastor, a college and seminary professor, and a poet. A student and friend of his described him this way, “…beloved by all who knew him. He had a Lincolnesque combination of strength and quietness about him.” That is an apt description of Gerhard Frost when I met him in 1978. As a guest speaker, he read his poetry at my internship congregation, Immanuel Lutheran Church, in Wadena, MN.
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Image: Statuette of Job, showing syphilis ulcers. Front view. From a French church. 16th Century