No place like Home?

Pain cover“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: (pain) is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world…“
It’s likely that this is the sentence most often quoted from The Problem of Pain by C.S.Lewis. Maybe one sign of the Grace of God at work in us is that we reach a place where
our pain is not just a reminder of who we were in our sins
but also a reminder of who we have become, in Christ. This third brief post on the theme of suffering also comes from The Problem of Pain by C S Lewis.

“The Christian doctrine of suffering explains, I believe, a very curious fact about the world we live in. The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment He has scattered broadcast…The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and pose an obstacle to our return to God…Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”

From C S Lewis in The Problem of Pain


Wasted saints?

When it comes to suffering, there is enough to go around without us making martyrs of ourselves. When it comes to
‘the discipline of suffering’ in our life or in the lives of those
we care for, we must watch out for our natural tendency to self-pity and maybe even to sympathize. This second brief post on the theme of suffering is from Oswald Chambers.

‘Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.’
1 Peter 4:19 ESV

‘To choose to suffer means that there is something wrong; to choose God’s will even if it means suffering is a very different thing. No healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he chooses God’s will, as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not. No saint dare interfere with the discipline of suffering in another saint. The saint who satisfies the heart of Jesus will make other saints strong and mature for God. The people who do us good are never those who sympathize with us, they always hinder, because sympathy enervates. No one understands a saint but the saint who is nearest to the Saviour. If we accept the sympathy of a saint, the reflex feeling is-‘Well, God is dealing hardly with me.’ That is why Jesus said self-pity was of the devil (see Matthew 16:23). Be merciful to God’s reputation. It is easy to blacken God’s character because God never answers back. He never vindicates Himself. Beware of the thought that Jesus needed sympathy in His earthly life; He refused sympathy from man because He knew far too wisely that no one on earth understood what He was after. He took sympathy from His Father only, and from the angels in heaven. (Cf. Luke 15:10) Note God’s unutterable waste of saints. According to the judgement of the world, God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say-‘God intends me to be here because I am so useful.’ God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is.’

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest

Spectators of suffering?

Pain coverWhether we are suffering ourselves or find ourselves in the position of being a spectator to the sufferings of others, our first thought, rightly, should be to find a way to end the hurt.
Unless we are a member of the healing professions our first thought should rarely, if ever, be to ask ourselves the whys of suffering, Why me? or, Why them? Of the three men who were spectators to suffering in Jesus’ story, a priest, a Levite and a Samaritan, all may have asked why they should help. Jesus commended the one who did help.This first of three brief posts on the theme of suffering comes from C S Lewis.

“…suffering is not good in itself. What is good in any painful experience is, for the sufferer, his submission to the will of God, and, for the spectators, the compassion aroused and the acts of mercy to which it leads.”

C S Lewis in The Problem of Pain


What shall I say?

Utmost  “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”   John 12:27-28a ESV

First published in 1927, ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ has been a staple of daily readings for Christians ever since. Sometimes challenging to cherished theological views it is always, at least in my experience, equally challenging to cherished sins and struggling disciples. 

Here is June 25th’s reading, ‘Receiving One’s Self in the Fires of Sorrow’. I think it makes interesting reading in light of our contemporary obsession with ‘self-realization’.

‘My attitude as a saint to sorrow and difficulty is not to ask that they may be prevented, but to ask that I may preserve the self God created me to be through every fire of sorrow. Our Lord received himself in the fire of sorrow. He was saved not from the hour, but out of the hour.
We say that there ought to be no sorrow, but there is sorrow, and we have to receive ourselves in its fires. If we try and evade sorrow, refuse to lay our account with it, we are foolish. Sorrow is one of the biggest facts in life; it is no use saying sorrow ought not to be. Sin and sorrow and suffering are, and it is not for us to say that God has made a mistake in allowing them.
Sorrow burns up a great amount of shallowness, but it does not always make a man better. Suffering either gives me my self or it destroys my self. You cannot receive your self in success, you lose your head; you cannot receive your self in monotony, you grouse. The way to find yourself is in the fires of sorrow. Why it should be so is another matter, but that it is so is true in the Scriptures and in human experience. You always know the man who has been through the fires of sorrow and received himself, you are certain you can go to him in trouble and find that he has ample leisure for you. If a man has not been through the fires of sorrow, he is apt to be contemptuous, he has no time for you. If you receive yourself in the fires of sorrow, God will make you nourishment for other people.

From ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ by Oswald Chambers.