The third chapter of Job always arrests my attention.
Job has lost his children, his property, and his health. He contemplates four scenarios that could have prevented him from experiencing this calamitous scene of life within which he finds himself. And so begins Job’s futile cognitive protest.
He asks why he was conceived. With no forthcoming answer to that question, he proceeds to his next station of thought. Why was he born? No response, and he is left to ponder that small detail. He is then compelled to ask a third question. Why didn’t he die during the birth process? Finally, he is pushed to his last question. Why was he born alive? After all, he could have arrived as a stillborn.
It’s the age-old “woulda-coulda-shoulda” predicament times four, isn’t it? Job finally encapsulates his bitter lament by exclaiming that if his mother’s womb had been shut, this sorrow wouldn’t be his (verse 10).
But there is one consideration that Job doesn’t mention as an option of escape from a life of grief. And it is this: he never asks why his life wasn’t extinguished in the womb. There is no expressed wish to have had someone snuff his humanity out after conception but before birth. His silence pertaining to potential demise in the womb at the hands of man is notable because he strikes me as someone who studies all angles when in a tight spot.
Job may have struggled against the suffering and misery of his circumstance, but he never despised the dignity of his humanity which precluded anyone from passing sentence on or declaring it as invalid. The Lord is the one who takes away, he declares emphatically in Job 1:21.
The silver cord is loosed by the Creator, Ecclesiastes 12:6 explains. When God looses His metaphorical silver cord, the body separates from the spirit and physical life ends. Perhaps this poetically-stated truth reverberated in Job’s soul. In other words, Job knew to Whom the silver cord belongs.
(Written in observance of the 38th annual Sanctity of Life Sunday, January 23, 2011)