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Following Job's Example

This is the third of a series of seven meditations examining the Christian meaning of suffering according to the thought of Pope St. John Paul II in his 1984 apostolic letter “Salvifici Doloris.”

It is unsurprising that St. John Paul II, in his meditation on the meaning of suffering, explores the problem of human pain and suffering in light of the biblical character of Job. We discover in examining the Book of Job not only rich content for some of the reasons behind suffering but also the way in which suffering undoubtedly affects our relationship with God.

St. John Paul II writes, “it also happens that people reach the point of actually denying God” because of suffering. One of those reasons, St. John Paul points out, is that so much of human suffering is undeserved and so many people who are the cause of suffering remain unpunished. Another reaction to suffering is to deny that God is a personal God – Christian in name, but a deist in practice. God exists and sets things in motion but can’t possibly be personal and active in human affairs.

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