C. S. Lewis on Pain

Read this excerpt from C.S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain, in which he takes an academic approach to the issue.

The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word “love,” and look on things as if man were the centre of them. Man is not the centre. God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not exist for his own sake. “Thou has created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the Divine love may rest “well pleased.” To ask that God’s love should be content with us as we are is to ask that God should cease to be God: because He is what He is, His love must, in the nature of things, be impeded and repelled by certain stains in our present character, and because He already loves us He must labour to make us lovable. We cannot even with, in our better moments, that He could reconcile Himself to our present impurities—no more than the beggar maid could wish that King Cophetua should be content with her rags and dirt, or a dog, once having learned to love man, could wish that man were such as to tolerate in his house the snapping, verminous, polluting creature of the wild pack. What we would here and now call our “happiness” is not the end God chiefly has in view: but when we are such as He can love without impediment, we shall in fact be happy. (Problem of Pain, pp. 47-48)

Watch this video clip where Anthony Hopkins, portraying Lewis, gives a lecture on the same subject. At the end he declares “Pain is God’s Megaphone to arouse a deaf world.” Words that will haunt him during the rest of the movie.

Eventually, Lewis falls in love with a woman (Joy Davidman) who contracts cancer and now his theology is tested.   Pain and suffering are no longer academic.   His picture of God isn’t working, thus creating the crisis of faith which this clip reveals.

Finally, through the help of Joy, he reconnects the dots to include his new understanding of God, where “pain and happiness are a part of the deal.”  This is a seven-minute clip that includes a scene with Joy’s son (C.S. Lewis’s stepson).
Write down you initial impressions after watching all three videos.

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