182) Three Insights From C. S. Lewis

     …The right direction leads not only to peace but to knowledge.   When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him.   When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less.   A moderately bad man knows he is not very good:  a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right.   This is common sense, really.   You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping.   You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly:   while you are making them you cannot see them.   You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk.   Good people know about both good and evil:   bad people do not know about either.   —Mere Christianity


     (One function that pain serves is that it) shatters the illusion that what we have, whether good or bad in itself, is our own, and enough for us.  Everyone has noticed how hard it is to turn our thoughts to God when everything is going well with us.  Having all you want is a terrible condition when all does not include God.  We find God an interruption.  As St Augustine says somewhere, ‘God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full– there’s nowhere for Him to put it.’  Or as a friend of mine said, ‘We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it’s there for emergencies but he hopes he’ll never have to use it.’  Now God, who has made us, knows what we are and that our happiness lies in Him.  Yet we will not seek it in Him as long as he leaves us any other resort where it can even plausibly be looked for.  While what we call ‘our own life’ remains agreeable we will not surrender it to Him.  What then can God do in our interests but make ‘our own life’ less agreeable to us, and take away the sources of false happiness?    —Problem of Pain


     On doubt:   …I have no doubt that the fear you mention is simply a temptation of the devil, an effort to keep us away from God by despair.  It is often the devil working through some defect in our health, and in extreme cases it needs a medical as well as a spiritual cure.  So don’t listen to these fears and doubts any more than you would to any obviously impure or uncharitable thoughts…  Of course, like other evil temptations, they will not be silenced at once.  You will think you have got rid of them and then they will come back again, and again.  But, with all our temptations of all sorts, we must just endure this.  Keep on, do your duty, say your prayers, make your communions, and take no notice of the tempter.  He goes away in the end.  —Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, volume 3.


1 John 1:8-10  —  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.   If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

I Peter 4:12-13  —  Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

I John 3:20  —  Though our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart.


Fix Thou our steps, O Lord, that we stagger not at the uneven motions of the world, but steadily go on to our glorious home; neither halting our journey because of the weather we meet with, nor turning out of the way for anything that befalls us.  The winds are often rough, and our own weight presses us downwards.  Reach forth, O Lord, thy hand, thy saving hand, and speedily deliver us.  Teach us, O Lord, to use this transitory life as pilgrims returning to their beloved home; that we may take what our journey requires, and not think of settling in a foreign country.   Amen.

–Author unknown, quoted in Eerdman’s Book of Famous Prayers, page 64, compiled by Veronica Zundel, Wm. B. Eerdman Publishing Co. 1983.