Suffering is a common experience to the majority of people in the world. It may be illness, it might have been a rough upbringing or it may take the form of witnessing someone else’s suffering. Suffering is not a stranger to the mortal man. Therefore, it makes sense that the question a lot of people ask is “Where is God in all the suffering?” Here’s Amy Orr-Ewing’s new book on that very question…
Here’s what Amy says about the purpose of her book;
‘This book is intended to be a reflection from the perspective of Christian faith in the midst of this dark world on why there might be such suffering in this world if God is loving, and how God – if he exists at all – interest with people who are in pain.’
This is a very relevant and important question for Christians to ask. So many people want to think about this question and yet they’re worried about raising it because of the response they might get. I’ve met people who worry that their asking of this question will lead people to doubt their salvation. But simply suppressing the question in our minds is not the answer.
‘One of the worst things people in religious circles sometimes seem to say to someone suffering is “Don’t ask why”, closely accompanied by “Don’t think about it” or “Just have faith.” These comments are so unhelpful. A questioning and thoughtful response to our human experience of suffering can be a really important part of coming to terms with terrible things that have happened to us.’
People suffer, people wonder where God is in that suffering, therefore, we need to honestly and openly wrestle with it. One of the strengths of this book is that it is not an academic treatise of human suffering from a theoretical perspective. Throughout the book there are stories of suffering from Amy’s own life and stories of the suffering of family members and friends. These stories are helpful because they illustrate the point Amy is trying to get across but also because they prove that Amy has the right to write this book.
The book begins with some of the worldview that influence how the world views suffering.
- Karma -– ‘Karma does not love. Suffering is inflicted by a faceless system of law, leaving us with what it determines we deserve.’
- Monotheism – focusing particularly on Islam. ‘Islam gives us a different perspective. It has a monotheistic view of the world – there is one God – but it is a fatalistic religion teaching that a transcendent God is absolutely and directly in control of every aspect of the universe.’
- Naturalism -– ‘Naturalism is the system derived from the belief that everything in life has a purely natural or physical explanations. In answer to the question “Where is God in all the suffering?” naturalism would say “Nowhere – because God doesn’t exist.” Naturalism tell us that there is no spiritual or religious dimension to life and there is no God who created the natural world.’
Amy then dives into the Christian worldview, unpacking the perspective Christians have seeing humanity as being image bearers of God. Amy doesn’t write this book in a way that slams other worldview, but she does clearly point out some of their flaws in a helpful way. Here’s what she says about our general outrage at suffering…
‘Our outrage in reaction to suffering – including the suffering of people we don’t know – and our human experience of pain itself all confirm the common human intuition that there is more to life than some might say… Perhaps it is worth exploring the possibility that our human outrage at suffering points us beyond urselves and prompts us to seek meaning and transcendence.’
In the chapters that follow Amy unpacks the Christian worldview about suffering in relation to anger, greed, sickness, mental illness, violence, natural disasters and systematic suffering. Each chapter is full of really helpful insights and really relevant to the current situation in the world. In a mere 130 pages Amy tackles a massive topic and covers a good amount of ground. Reading this book will challenge you, stimulate you intellectually and point you towards Jesus the great Suffering Servant.
I recommend you head over to The Good Book Company and grab a copy for just £6.79* (that includes both a physical and digital copy).
*at the original time of this review being posted
Amy Orr Ewing has spoken about how the Christian faith answers the deepest questions of life on university campuses around the world. She is a regular speaker on TV, radio and has addressed politicians in the Speakers Rooms and Chapel at the UK Parliament, on Capitol Hill, and to West Wing staff at the White House. Dr Orr- Ewing gained her undergraduate degree her doctorate from the University of Oxford. She is President of OCCA The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and the co-founder of REBOOT, a youth initiative aimed at helping young people think deeply about faith, which now runs in countries all over the world. Amy is married to Frog and helps lead Latimer Minster, a church community based on a farm in Buckinghamshire. They have three children.