“The Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis

“The Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis

This is a short book (162 pages), but packed with many, many nuggets of wisdom (seriously, so many underlined passages). Keep in mind this was written in 1940 by an academic, I found the language scholarly, and not a little dry, but it just took a few pages to get the rhythm and flow.

The gist of the book is that pain is the result of the abuse of freedom by man, not the result of an unloving or vengeful God. If viewed properly, pain can, and should bring us into a closer and more harmonious relationship with God and man.

This is one of many passages that paint a beautiful picture of God and our relationship with Him.

“‘To him that overcometh I will give a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.’ What can be more a man’s own than this new name which even in eternity remains a secret between God and him? And what shall we take this secrecy to mean? Surely, that each of the redeemed shall forever know and praise some one aspect of the Divine beauty better than any other creature can. Why else were individuals created, but that God, loving all infinitely, should love each differently? And this difference, so far from impairing, floods with meaning the love of all blessed creatures for one another, the communion of the saints. If all experienced God in the same way and returned Him an identical worship, the song of the Church triumphant would have no symphony, it would be like an orchestra in which all the instruments played the same note. Aristotle has told us that a city is a unity of unlikes, and St. Paul that a body is a unity of different members. Heaven is a city, and a Body, because the blessed remain eternally different: a society, because each has something to tell all the others–fresh and ever fresh news of the ‘My God’ whom each finds in Him whom all praise as ‘Our God'” (pages 154-155).

I don’t agree with aspects of Lewis’s theology, but appreciate his ability address difficult aspects of Christianity; and pain is one of those seeming difficulties. Lewis shows us that pain is not the problem, the problem is in our relating to Him and to each other.

Lewis, C. S. The Problem of Pain. HarperCollins, 2001.


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