Job faced many forms of suffering. He lost his children and wealth in a single day. He was then struck with painful sores over his entire body. After this time, his wife added to the pain by saying, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9).
In short, Job’s wife was saying, “Give up!” Job’s life had completely fallen apart. Instead of encouraging Job to faithfully endure, his wife said he should just lie down and die. Even worse, she told him to curse God before he died. She saw God as the problem, the One who had abandoned Job in his time of trouble.
It is easy to see Job’s wife as doing wrong in this scene, yet her response was natural, from a purely human point of view. She had lost her children, too, along with her home and wealth, and now she watched her husband suffer in excruciating pain. If living faithfully before the Lord means being treated like this, she reasoned, it was better to die. Also, her comments merely match what Job’s three friends later reflect in their speeches to Job. It is Job’s hope-filled response to his wife that is key to understanding his faith.
In response to his wife’s bitter outlook, Job first rebukes her: “You are talking like a foolish woman” (Job 2:10a). He then asks, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10b). His words are commended by God: “In all this, Job did not sin in what he said” (Job 2:10c). Job’s response was a godly answer to the pain he was facing.
God allows both good and “evil” (that is, calamity, as in Isaiah 45:7), yet it is a temptation to view bad happenings as God’s punishment upon our lives. While this may sometimes be the case, it is clear that God also allows suffering for other reasons. In Job’s case, the suffering was not the result of God’s judgment at all, and Job was later blessed with twice as much as before his time of trouble.
In the New Testament, Jesus came as God’s suffering Messiah (Isaiah 53) on our behalf so that we may have eternal life. Jesus was without sin, yet He endured great suffering. He set an example for His followers in this regard. There are times when believers will endure various types of suffering and pain even though they have done nothing wrong.
Job’s wife suggested that he “curse God and die.” Job wisely refused to take that route. Instead, he taught us that we are to accept both good and bad from the Lord, trusting that His plan is best. James 5:10–11 says we should, “as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”