Monday, March 31, 2008


I have been thinking a lot about suffering. In my "ponderings", I have read The Problem of Pain, by C.S. Lewis and A Grief Observed, also by C.S. Lewis. The Problem of Pain was written almost like a commentary on doctrine.
  1. "When God becomes a Man and lives as a creature among His own creatures in Palestine, then indeed His life is one of supreme self-sacrifice and leads to Calvary."
  2. "Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment."
  3. "We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin."
  4. "From the moment a creature becomes aware of God as God and of itself as self, the terrible alternative of choosing God or self for the centre is opened to it."
Though I found the book incredibly thought provoking and surprisingly insightful in many ways, it does not offer comfort. It is not intended to. It is an account created from the mind - not the heart.

A Grief Observed, on the other hand was written after C.S. Lewis lost his beloved wife. His understanding of suffering and of living through pain and grief is real and his writing on the subject really is a masterpiece of the heart. He shows how much courage and strength it takes to live through suffering. It's an astonishingly honest account of how a person can lose their bearings, when all reality is shaken under their feet, and yet how it (reality/understanding of truth) slowly returns, though perhaps changed.
  1. "Nothing will shake a man - or at any rate a man like me - out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself."
  2. "No one ever told me that grief is so much like fear."


biomcgary said...

I think we often forget that we were commanded to be like Christ and take up our cross daily. So, suffering is not an optional part of the Christian life. God does, however, seem to spare many Christians from significant suffering until they are at the point where they can learn from it.

Lisa said...

Strange that you happen to be reading Lewis' "The Problem of Pain" and "A Grief Observed" recently...I have been especially moved by both accounts in the last couple of months. I am actually thinking about sending a copy of "The Problem of Pain" to a friend of mine who is really struggling with suffering/pain as she considers Christianity.

More recently, this week I have been reading/meditating on Christ, suffering, and a suffering Savior...the significance of Christ's suffering much more than just the technical horror of the crucifixion. I have been journaling a great deal about the relationship of human suffering, Christian suffering, and Christ's suffering.

As for comfort...there is a sweetness in knowing that He not only bore our sin, guilt, shame, and punishment, but that He carries our sorrows, too.

"He was despised and rejected by men,a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted."