I’m down to do ‘Thought For The Day’ on Wednesdays in September (3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th, 7.40 am BBC Radio Bristol)
Today I was reflecting on the BBC Drama ‘God on Trial’, which is to be shown tonight (Wednesday 3rd) at 9.00 pm on BBC 2.
Why is there is so much suffering in the world? That’s the question at the heart of a BBC drama to be shown this evening, provocatively entitled, God on Trial.
Set among the kind of extreme torment few of us will ever face, a group of Jewish men, awaiting their fate in Auschwitz, debate that most perplexing question – why suffering?
But this is not a unique to the holocaust. As the producer suggests, the drama was commissioned because we all have unanswered questions. We all wrestle with and try to understand why people are cut down in their prime. Why people would want to fly a plane into a skyscraper killing hundreds. Or why thousands are wiped out in an instant by a tsunami – and why God doesn’t do anything to stop all this.
A character in the Bible has become synonymous with undeserved suffering. Job looses everything, his family, his property, and his health. His friends suggest he must have done something very bad for this to have happened. But while God rebukes such thinking, he fails to offer any explanation for Job’s trials.
I don’t have any answers either. Perhaps the story of Job might suggest that such things are beyond human understanding. But this I do know.
Even in the darkest moments of human history, goodness wasn’t totally absent. Some people found the strength to tend to the sufferings of their fellow human beings and to face evil head on.
The truth is, in this world, inexplicable and meaningless things happen. But that shouldn’t just leave us with the unanswerable question, ‘Why?’, but force us to ask an altogether more positive one: ‘How should we respond?’