The Reality of Pain

Lent opens this week and it’s a reminder of suffering and pilgrimage. C. S. Lewis wrote two books on pain, The Problem of Pain in 1940 and A Grief Observed in 1961.

In The Problem of Pain Lewis says, like Chekhov, there is “so much mercy, yet still there is Hell.” In other words, no matter how you cut it, hell still exists and in our fallenness pain will always be present.

In A Grief Observed, Lewis agonizes that, “When I lay these questions before God I get no answer.”

Yet ultimately, in his writings, Lewis calls us to hope. When we die, a veil lifts and the reason for the horror is revealed (Pain), and in heaven “the notions will all be knocked under our feet. We shall see there never was any problem” (A Grief Observed).

How could Lewis be so confident that pain served such a noble purpose? Are there important differences in his approach to pain in The Problem of Pain – before his face-to-face encounter with Joy’s death – and A Grief Observed – after it occurs?

In the next several articles, during the Lenten season, we’ll explore these questions.

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