CS Lewis and the problem of pain continued; God’s purposes for us

In his book The Problem of Pain, CS Lewis surmises that “4/5 of all the pain we encounter is due to inherent evil in us or evil acts done by or upon us”.  He describes how our own natures contribute to the problem outside of “any fault of God”.  However, in his chapter on human pain, he addresses the other “1/5” of encountered pain that may not necessarily  be explained by faults of our own.  In particular he describes 3 purposes for this type of pain, conceding an understanding that dealing with it involves a trust in God’s wisdom and an understanding that “God…who made these deserving people, may really be right when He thinks that their modest prosperity and the happiness of their children are not enough to make them blessed…therefore He troubles them, warning them in advance of an insufficiency that one day they will have to discover.  The life to themselves and their families stands between them and the recognition of their need.”  Lewis calls this “divine humility” because in it God stands ready to accept us at any moment we acknowledge our need and call upon Him.  He will accept us “even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him [and come to Him when] there is nothing better to be had”. According to Lewis, this purpose in pain accomplishes 1.  a shattering of the illusion that all is well 2.  a shattering of the illusion that what we have is our own and is good enough for us and 3.  that we are doing God’s will (deontologically speaking).  He also acknowledges what is always perceived as “insensitivity” when addressing the problem and its solution, stating, “How can I say with sufficient tenderness what here needs to be said?  It does not matter that I know I must become, in the eyes of every hostile reader, as it were, personally responsible for all the sufferings I try to explain…but it matters enormously if I alienate anyone from the truth”.  This is keen insight into a difficult problem.


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