The Dialogue on Human Suffering

The Book of Job is a literary masterpiece on the question of human suffering.  After an account of the calamities which befell Job (chapters 1-2) the rest of the book consists of a discussion of why.  First, Job and his three friends debate the question.  Next, a younger man speaks.  Then finally God answers but it’s not what Job expected.

As you read the discussion between Job and his friends note that they all started with this same basic premise:  “Bad things should not happen to good people”.  Starting with this premise they all (including Job) reached a wrong conclusion.  The three friends concluded that since such misfortune had befallen Job , there must be some secret, vile sin in his life and they call upon him to repent.  Job, on the other hand, knew that while he was not faultless, there was no big secret sin in his life as his friends supposed.  Therefore, he concluded that an awful mistake had been made and he called upon God to give an answer.

The book is a masterful discussion of the very questions we raise when we and those we love suffer.  The big question: Why? Is raised and God’s answer is not what we had looked for.