Today’s first reading just begs the question, why does God allow good people to suffer? This reading is part of a conversation Job has with three friends who have come to comfort him in his unbelievable suffering at the hand of satan: losing his family; all his belongings; and his own health.
At the end of today’s reading Job makes the statement, “If I appealed to him and he answered my call, I could not believe that he would hearken to my words.” I actually think God does hearken to our words when we call out to him in need. Did he not become man, share in our humanity and suffer an agonizing death to convince us of his unconditional, infinite and pure love for us.
I do not know why suffering is so much a part of our human existence, especially when it strikes good and innocent people. I certainly do not think God inflicts suffering on me or anyone else. I do know however, that suffering has sometimes been a great grace in my life. While I would never wish it on anybody, the times of greatest suffering in my life have also been when I experienced God’s love most powerfully, through the care other people have had for me.
During such times I have also come closer to God because, in my vulnerability, all I can do is hope and trust in God, handing over to him my very suffering. Lastly, such times of suffering have made me a more compassionate and caring person. God’s ways are not ours and indeed, we are able to find him in all things.
—David McNulty works for the Midwest Jesuits. Dave and his wife Judy are grandparents of six.