Daily Devotions (8/05/10): “A Grief Observed”

As most who have known me over the years know, C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors.  His mind is among the sharpest, creative, and vivid that I have ever encountered.  In light of me conducting my second funeral for a church member in a week (a lovely NBFMC member named Patty), I thought that I would share some thoughts from C.S. Lewis, himself, on this topic.

“A Grief Observed” is a very unique book from Lewis, compiled from various journal entries and thoughts relating to the death of his wife Joy (who had previously been in remission from her cancer).  Normally very composed and organized, Lewis’ thoughts and emotions range all over the place in this book.  This very much reminds me of Psalms, in how King David and the other authors share openly, as if from their journals, what is on their mind to God.  May you take comfort that one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century was undone by grief and loss as we all are and, more importantly, that we believe that after this life…. there is more.

Blessings,

Pastor Josh

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear… At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says (pg. 3).

…there is a spread over everything a vague sense of wrongness, of something amiss… Will there come a time when I no longer ask why the world is like a mean street, because I shall take the squalor as normal? Does grief finally subside into boredom tinged by faint nausea (35)?

Bridge-players tell me that there must be some money on the game ‘or else people won’t take it seriously.’ Apparently it’s like that. Your bid – for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity – will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until the stakes are raised horribly high, until you find that you are playing not for counters or for sixpences but for every penny you have in the world. Nothing less 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 (37).

Having got once through death, to come back and then, at some later date, have all her dying to do over again? They call Stephen the first martyr. Hadn’t Lazarus the rawer deal (41)?

What do people mean when they say, ‘I am not afraid of God because I know He is good’? Have they never even been to a dentist (43)?

The other end I had in view turns out to have been based on a misunderstanding. I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process. It needs not a map but a history… (59)

Did you know, dear, how much you took away with you when you left? You have stripped me even of my past, even of the things we never shared. I was wrong to say the stump was recovering from the pain of the amputation. I was deceived because it has so many ways to hurt me that I discover them only one by one (61).

Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are there in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask – half our great theological and metaphysical problems – are like that (69).

And so, perhaps, with God. I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted. Was it my own frantic need that slammed it in my face? The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God can’t give it: you are like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear (46).

I need Christ, not something that resembles Him (65).

If you’re approaching Him not as the goal but as a road, not as the end but as a means, you’re not really approaching Him at all. That’s what was really wrong with all those popular pictures of happy reunions ‘on the further shore’; not the simple-minded and very earthly images, but the fact that they make an End of what we can get only as a by-product of the true End (68).”

Published in: on August 5, 2010 at 9:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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