Director’s Report – questions of suffering

As I write these words, the news has been filled with the growing death toll and horrific stories from the Grenfell Tower disaster. Grenfell raises many deeply disturbing questions. How could so many people burn to death right in the heart of one of the most modern cities in the world? How could so many mistakes be made? The Grenfell tragedy also reminds us how suffering and evil are also bound up together—an accidental fire is in one sense a ‘natural disaster’, but then into the mix is added poverty, greed, bad management, and gross human error.

But an event like Grenfell—and the other examples of suffering, tragedy, violence and death that daily fill the headlines—raises another question too. Where is God in all of this? Indeed, many sceptics and doubters would argue that pain and suffering clearly tell us that there is no God. As Richard Dawkins put it:

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.

It’s to answer tough questions like this that we created the SHORT/ANSWERS video series—brief, 3-4 minute films, taking the hardest questions and the sharpest challenges to the Christian faith, and addressing them in a way that both Christians and non-Christians can understand.

Our latest film addresses the question of pain and suffering and suggests the question isn’t so much what God may have said about suffering and evil, but whether God has done anything about it. You can watch the video on YouTube here and it’s also on Facebook and in even shorter form on Instagram.

Last week, Andy and Al were at a Quench event in a coffee shop in Perth. Andy spoke on ‘How Can I Believe in Christianity When the Church Is So Evil?’ Among the audience was a gentlemen who had begun attending an Alpha Course at a local church but still had questions—indeed, we were told that this very question was one of the major stumbling blocks for him. The man asked questions in the Q&A and afterwards, he and Andy were able to talk. He said to Andy: “That’s the first time I’ve heard somebody answer that question in a way that’s persuasive”.

Apologetics, which we’re passionate about at Solas, is about just that: dealing with people’s honest questions so they are no longer stumbling blocks, so they can see Jesus clearly. Whether it’s the historic misbehaviour of parts of the church, or suffering and evil, or science and faith, or any of a thousand other questions, Solas is there at the coalface, online and offline, helping people see, as 1 Peter 3:15 puts it, that there are reasons for the hope that we have. Thanks for your prayers and your financial support that make this possible.