Thursday, March 09, 2006

"Undeserved" Human Pain

This excerpt was taken from the article, The Problem of Pain, based on the C. S. Lewis book of that same title.

Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just? Exodus 18:25.

Probably four-fifths of all human suffering, says C.S.Lewis in The Problem of Pain, derives from our misusing nature, or hurting others. We, not God, produced racks, whips, prisons, guns and bombs.

Because we are rebels-against-God who must lay down our arms, our other pains may indeed constitute God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world to surrender. There is a universal feeling that bad people ought to suffer: without a concept of 'retribution' punishment is rendered unjust (what can be more immoral than to inflict suffering on me for the sake of deterring others if I do not deserve it?). But until evil persons find evil unmistakably present in their existence, in the form of pain, they are enclosed in illusion. Pain may provide the only opportunity they may have for amendment. It is hard to turn our thoughts to God when things are going well. To 'have all we want' is a terrible saying when 'all' does not include God.

So God troubles our selfishness, which stands between us and the recognition of our need. God's divine humility stoops to conquer, even if we choose him merely as an alternative to hell. Yet even this he accepts!

Lord, forgive me if I regard you as I do a heart-lung machine - there for emergencies, but hoping I'll never have to use it. Amen......

Here is the book review for C. S. Lewis', The Problem of Pain:

The Problem of Pain answers the universal question, "Why would an all-loving, all-knowing God allow people to experience pain and suffering?" Master Christian apologist C.S. Lewis asserts that pain is a problem because our finite, human minds selfishly believe that pain-free lives would prove that God loves us. In truth, by asking for this, we want God to love us less, not more than he does. "Love, in its own nature, demands the perfecting of the beloved; that the mere 'kindness' which tolerates anything except suffering in its object is, in that respect at the opposite pole from Love." In addressing "Divine Omnipotence," "Human Wickedness," "Human Pain," and "Heaven," Lewis succeeds in lifting the reader from his frame of reference by artfully capitulating these topics into a conversational tone, which makes his assertions easy to swallow and even easier to digest. Lewis is straightforward in aim as well as honest about his impediments, saying, "I am not arguing that pain is not painful. Pain hurts. I am only trying to show that the old Christian doctrine that being made perfect through suffering is not incredible. To prove it palatable is beyond my design." The mind is expanded, God is magnified, and the reader is reminded that he is not the center of the universe as Lewis carefully rolls through the dissertation that suffering is God's will in preparing the believer for heaven and for the full weight of glory that awaits him there. While many of us naively wish that God had designed a "less glorious and less arduous destiny" for his children, the fortune lies in Lewis's inclination to set us straight with his charming wit and pious mind. --Jill Heatherly

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