No. I am not going to compare myself to C. S. Lewis! I am, however, much relieved to realize that a Christian giant such as C. S. Lewis could experience great pain and even some doubt in his relationship with Christ. I thought it might also be of consolation and encouragement to you. Not that he struggled, but that he struggled and overcame, and so can we!
I've referenced this post several times, but allow me to do so at least once more. I know it was somewhat (or perhaps greatly) disturbing to some of you. And, after months of wrestling with this, I think I finally know why.
It is not commonplace for us as Christians to readily and openly admit our struggles, especially when those struggles seem to reveal some doubt in the One we claim to believe is the Savior. Admitting that I have very difficult, trying, and exhausting days that drain me of every last ounce of every last ounce of me was troublesome to some of you. It is troublesome! The fact that there are whole days that I forget to rely the very One who gives me the ability to do this thing we call life, who gives me LIFE, is disturbing.
Perhaps my struggle to believe that "all that love" is for me bothered some of you too. And, in truth, it bothers ME! Because what I feel and what I know and believe to be true are not always the same thing. However, what I know ALWAYS trumps what I feel in the end. I've experienced too much of God to abandon His truths. I may feel that I am too much of a mess for God to redeem but I know that His Word tells me nothing is impossible for Him, and He who began a good work in me will carry it on to the day of completion, and inwardly I am being renewed day by day, and His Word will accomplish His purpose in my life, and His mercies are new every morning, and...the promises are endless. And I must remind myself of them constantly. Otherwise, I fall prey to shame. And shame keeps me from approaching the Source of Life for what I need each day.
Months after being very vulnerable, and after months of wrestling the thing out with God, I read this in my apologetics study by Mary Jo Sharp; it so perfectly articulates my feelings that I have not been able to formulate into words for you:
"C. S. Lewis, one of the most impacting Christian apologists in history, has well argued that God is the only answer to the problem of pain and suffering in this world (The Problem of Pain). However, after the death of his wife from cancer, Lewis struggled personally with doubt and depression and wrote about his emotional objections to God (A Grief Observed).
"Lewis affirmed that he was not in danger of disbelief in God but of believing God to be malicious because of the depth of human suffering as he experienced it. In the Scriptures, Job also questioned God's character as did the psalmist for allowing suffering.
"...We can train ourselves and others in habits of the Christian faith (prayer, fellowship, discipleship) so that when our moods do greatly affect us, we will be able to rightly handle them with truth. This was also C. S. Lewis's solution in Mere Christianity:
"'The first step is to recognise the fact that your moods change. The next is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. ...Neither this belief [Christianity] nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind.'" (See footnote.)
Life circumstances can greatly affect our feelings and our moods. The important thing is that we are armed with the tools to combat those feelings with the Truth. Prayer, discipleship, and fellowship are some of those tools, or some of the ways we deliberately hold the main doctrines of Christianity before our mind each day. Discipleship, in my opinion, being diligent study of Scriptures, meditation, and memorization. We also cannot forsake worship.
I've heard Beth Moore describe this deliberate holding of truth before our minds as tearing down the lies that are plastered to the walls of our minds and replacing them with the wallpaper of Truth. We have to be intentional about saturating our minds with Truth more than the lies of the world.
Can I get in your business? Because some of you got in mine. (Which I always welcome.) How much time are you spending drinking in Truth v/s drinking in the subtle lies of the world? Just a word of warning from someone who has learned (learns) all her lessons the hard way, it is much easier to drink in lies because they are offered to us constantly. It doesn't take a lot of effort to fill up on them. But it takes a great deal of effort to counteract the great volume of lies with a greater volume of Truth. We must be intentional. It is for good reason that God tells us He rewards those who EARNESTLY seek Him. We must be earnestly seeking if we want to experience all the blessings He intends for us.
Drink up, sisters! He is so beyond worth the effort!
"I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ." Philippians 3:8
Need some motivation to keep your focus on the eternal versus the temporary?
Try a Bible reading plan. I use the YouVersion app on my phone. I am currently reading the chronological one-year plan. It keeps me on schedule!
Try a memory plan. You can do one verse a week, one a month, or whatever you think is do-able. Just stick with it! Grab a small notebook and write one verse on each page. Carry that little book everywhere you go and read your verses constantly. Or, if you spend the majority of your time at home like me, find a place to sit it where you can read it several times throughout the day. Mine sits by my kitchen sink. Beth Moore also has this page on the Living Proof Ministry blog where you can sign up for some accountability!
Excerpt taken from:
Mary Jo Sharp, Why Do You Believe That? (Nashville: LifeWay Press, 2012), 22-23.