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One Reason We Suffer Pain

February 27, 2008

I’ve been reading The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis, and it has been very good.  He does a great job of stating the case for why suffering exists in a world with a good, all powerful God.  I was particularly moved by this passage:

My own experience is something like this.  I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen and godless condition, . . . when suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease, or a headline in the newspapers that threatens us all with destruction, sends this whole pack of cards tumbling down.  At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys.  Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times.  I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world, and my only real treasure is Christ.  And perhaps, by God’s grace,  succeed, and for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing its strength from the right sources.  But the moment the threat is withdrawn, my whole nature leaps back to the toys: I am even anxious, God forgive me, to banish from my mind the only thing that supported me under the threat . . . Thus the terrible necessity of tribulation is only too clear.  God has had me for but forty-eight hours, and then only by dint of taking everything else away from me. . . . And that is why tribulations cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless.

You know, this describes my own experience well.  When I suffer, I rely on God.  However, when the suffering withdraws, I quickly forget God, or at least forget that I need to rely on him and not my own strength.  How unfaithful I am!  As Lewis says, God only has me for short periods, when circumstances prove to me that I have no other recourse.  May I become remade, changed in a way so I constantly depend on God.  I want to make God my only treasure.  I feel like Lewis – a man who is unable to love God – that the only times I trust him is when he orchestrates my circumstances to show me that I am NOT trusting him.  May God help me to trust him in the good times as well as the bad, and as much as I hate to say this, may he continue to shape me through suffering in the mean time.

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