Suppose you could interview God and ask any questions you wanted. What would you ask? Maybe…
- Can you get my boss / spouse / family… to be more understanding?
- Got any good stock tips?
- Will the Washington Nationals ever get to the World Series?
Too mundane? How about …
- Why did my parents have to die in a car crash?
- Do you even care about our world’s suffering – war, famine, natural disasters, racism, gun violence, sexual misconduct?
- If you care, why do you allow it?
You have a taste of the opportunity journalist Paul Asher faces as he returns from covering the war in Afghanistan with more questions than answers about life’s troubling complexities. Through curious twists, he gets three sit-downs with an intriguing man claiming to be God. Their interaction – and Paul’s reactions – form the plot of the thought-provoking and entertaining film, An Interview with God.
In movie theaters across the US from August 20-22, this film seeks to stimulate discussion about the divine role in modern life. The cast includes Oscar nominee David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck) and Brenton Thwaites (Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales), plus Yael Grobglas (Jane the Virgin, Supergirl), Hill Harper (Concussion), and Charlbi Dean Kriek (Black Lightning).
Your hard questions?
So, how would God answer your hard questions? Would His answers satisfy you?
My skeptical mind wrestled with a common concern: How can a good, just, powerful God allow evil and suffering? Is He all good but not all powerful, so He cares but can’t help? Or is He powerful enough but just doesn’t care?
I encountered a partial answer from an unexpected source.
The late William Sloane Coffin served as Yale University’s chaplain in the 1960s and 1970s. Famous for civil rights and anti-Vietnam War activism, he championed many liberal causes. So it surprised me to see his PBS TV comment on the problem of pain. “Almost every square inch of the Earth’s surface is soaked with the tears and blood of the innocent,” Coffin told Religion andEthics Newsweekly, “and it’s not God’s doing. It’s our doing. That’s human malpractice. Don’t chalk it up to God.”
“When [people] see the innocent suffering,” continued Coffin, “every time they lift their eyes to Heaven and say, ‘God, how could you let this happen?’ it’s well to remember that exactly at that moment God is asking exactly the same question of us: ‘How could you let this happen?’”
Suffering – A Divine megaphone
Oxford scholar C.S. Lewis estimated that 80 percent of human suffering stems from human choice. Lewis called pain “God’s megaphone” that alerts us to our need for Him. This response does not answer all concerns, but suggests that the problem of evil is not as great an intellectual obstacle to trusting God as some imagine.
During a two-week period earlier in my life, my wife of 20 years divorced me, my employer of 25 years showed me the door, and I had a cancer scare. During those dark days, a good friend reminded me of an important statement by a follower of Jesus: “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him.” “That hasn’t been repealed yet!” my friend affirmed. He was right.
Four years later, I married a wonderful woman. We enjoyed each other immensely for 16 years until cancer took her. Pain’s emotional impact can remain formidable. It took about 10 years after the divorce and firing for my emotions to catch up with the truth of my friend’s reminder. Still adapting to life’s more recent curve balls.
Interested in exploring more about questions like these? An Interview with Godcould point you in engaging directions.
This article was written by Rusty Wright for the Assist News Service. Rusty is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents and holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively.