Listen: Dr Amy Orr-Ewing considers the implications of suffering on the Christian life, and how it helps us understand the heart of God
In the overwhelming malaise that has overshadowed much of 2020 for so many people, understandably, there are some who are asking, ‘where is God in it all?’
When we confront suffering and loss it can contradict our perception of a loving God, and what we believe He should be doing to rectify the situation.
President of OCCA The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics Dr Amy Orr-Ewing, in her new book Where is God in all the Suffering?, considers the implications of suffering on the Christian life, and how it helps us understand the heart of God.
“I really wanted to write a book that didn’t only address the intellectual question of ‘How could this be the world we live in, and God actually exist and be loving?’ but also really address the depth and profundity – and actual pain – of people’s lived experience,” Dr Orr-Ewing.
Uniquely this year, although we’re all being affected differently, the world is sharing in the same pain but Amy said the enduring impact of the pandemic will be very personal to each of us.
For those of us reflecting on our mortality and the things we find purpose in, Dr Orr-Ewing said, “It could lead to a deepening of faith”.
As we ask harder questions about God and the state of our world, Dr Orr-Ewing said one of the things she tries to say in her book “is that questions and doubts are not the enemy of the Christian faith. The Christian worldview actually gives us a framework for processing our grief, our doubts, our anger and our pain”.
“God is not offended by people asking ‘why?’… But sometimes the church has a bit of a tendency to say not to do that – that would be disloyal to God. You can end up with these religious platitudes of ‘just have a bit more faith’ and ‘don’t think about it too much’,” Dr Orr-Ewing said.
“I think really depending how we’ve processed these events, that’s going to affect what the long-term impact is. I think we’re going to see some Christian communities experience real growth, and others will see catastrophic decline.”
Dr Orr-Ewing’s encouragement to those facing suffering of any kind is to know, “How you feel about what you’re going through matters, because you matter”.
“Your processing of your experience of suffering doesn’t need to be minimised – it certainly shouldn’t be beaten up with the stick of, ‘have more faith and just get over’.
“Actually, there is a God who loves you and who has fully entered into our human experience of suffering [in Jesus], and who wants to be with you in that suffering in a meaningful way. He wants to walk with you through the messiness of it, not just the sanitised religious bits.”
Listen to Amy’s full conversation with Laura Bennett in the player above