Advent Devotion for Friday, December 6

By David Carlson

Read Matthew 24: 36-44

In 1939 as Great Britain was being drawn into a war it was ill prepared to wage, C. S. Lewis published The Problem of Pain.  The book was to be a treatise on the nature and the consequences of Adam’s fall.  In the preface to the book Lewis wrote:

“. . . The only purpose of this book is to solve the intellectual problem raised by suffering; for the far higher task of teaching fortitude and patience I was never fool enough to suppose myself qualified, nor have I anything to offer my readers except my conviction that when pain is to be borne, a little courage helps much more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.”

Later in his life Lewis wrote to a friend asking for her prayers, saying that everything was too easy for him.  “I am [like the pilgrim in Bunyan] traveling across  ‘a plain called Ease.’  I [he continued] now feel that one must never say one believes or understands anything:  any morning a doctrine I thought I already possessed may blossom into this new reality.”

Nearer the end of his life that new morning crushed him to the point of near loss of faith when his beloved wife, Joy, was taken from him by death.  In his grief he wrote A Grief Observed.  His earlier faith, he said, had been a “treaty with reality,” which was overwhelmed by his loss.

“Reality smashed my dream to bits. . . .  No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.  Where is God? . . . Go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find?  A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside.  After that, silence.”

And yet later on, shortly before his own death he could write:

“We are like a seed patiently waiting in the earth:  waiting to come to flower in the Gardener’s good time, up into the real world, the real waking.  I suppose that our whole present life, looked back on from there, will seem only a drowsy half-waking.  We are here in the land of dreams.  But cock-crow is coming.”

We pray:  Our good and gracious God, I know not the day and hour when You will come or summon me.  By Your faith through grace I pray that I will be ready.  Forgive me my ease, and stir in me that love of You that will bear me through this world of dreams until that day of waking. Amen.