This past week, I read Rabbi Harold Kushner’s new book from Nextbook Press, entitled The Book of Job: When Bad Things Happened to a Good Person. Kushner, made famous by his analysis of suffering and theodicy in relation to the loss of his son, combined modern and traditional analysis of the Book of Job to help us see what this book might teach us about suffering, and where God fits into a world that is imperfect. Regarding Job’s question throughout the book as to why God allows a good person to suffer, Kushner writes:
- “Like Job, I have met God. I have met Him in the sunshine but more often in the shadows, not in the elegant perfection of the world but in the resilience of the human soul, the ability of people to find even a pain-filled life, even a grossly unfair life, worth living. I have met God in the readiness of people to reach out to the afflicted, to salve their wounds not with their doctrines but with their hugs and their tears. Like Job, like Abraham, I have seen a world in flames and I have been sustained by the message that God has not abandoned His world.”
According to Kushner, it is a mistake to ask where God was during human suffering, because God’s power over the world does not extend to eliminating any possible disaster or evil, for those are essential pieces of God’s creation, as well. Instead, in moments of suffering, we are compelled to see the godliness within ourselves and others, recognizing that, even in the darkest moments, God has not abandoned us, or our world. May we learn from Kushner’s strength as a means of building up our own sense of resilience to meet life’s challenges.