In Chapter 7 (“Why are We Here?”) of Where is God When It Hurts? author Phillip Yancey postulates that while, on the surface, the book of Job centers around the problem of suffering, underneath a different issue is at stake: the doctrine of human freedom. The author believes that Job endured undeserved suffering in order to show that ultimately God is interested in freely given love.
Phillip Yancey says that to understand the issue of human freedom, it is helpful to imagine what a world of perfect fairness would look like. If the world operated according to fixed, perfectly fair rules, we would behave appropriately only for our own selfish gain and love God for the rewards He would bestow. Our love for God would not be, the author notes, “a deliberate choice in the face of attractive alternatives”.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn made such a deliberate choice while imprisoned in a Russian gulag, when hate and anger would have been a quite “attractive alternative”. Phillip Yancey cites this quote from The Gulag Archipelago:
It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either- but right through every human heart- and through all human hearts. . . . I nourished my soul there, and I say without hesitation: ‘Bless you prison, for having been in my life.’ ”