Thursday, August 13, 2009

Weekly Recommendation - "A Grief Observed"

This Sunday we will be looking at Psalm 23:4, "even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me." The fact is, we all will face the valley of the shadow of death. Whenever we get that diagnosis, get betrayed by a best friend, our spouse files for divorce, our children disappoint us, or we fail. We will all suffer. We will all grieve. We will all need comfort.

As I have studied this week, I have re-read a classic CS Lewis book entitled, "A Grief Observed." Most will know Lewis and the legacy of his life. He is perhaps most famous for his fictional series, "The Chronicles of Narnia," which have been turned into film multiple times. He is also well known for volumes of nonfictional books including Mere Christianity, Screwtape Letters, The Problem of Pain, Miracles, Reflections on the Psalms, The Four Loves, and many more. I have read many of these and Lewis continues to make me think, reevaluate what I believe, and challenge me to be a better Christian. His ability to make the complex simple, yet profound is unsurpassed by any writer in the past century.

His book, A Grief Observed, is unlike his others. As the title suggests, the author is observing his process of grief. Lewis is mourning over the death of his wife. Each chapter is another faze in the grieving process. Lewis writes openly and honestly. The book is short (only about 75 pages) and yet the reader is drawn into the pain and emotions of the author. At some point in our lives, we have all asked the same questions and said the same things as Lewis. He boldly asks where God is in all of this? Why did God allow his wife to get cancer and suffer the way she did? We can all certainly relate. Perhaps no other question has been asked more than that.

One of the things Lewis raises in the book regards his faith as a house of cards. As the book continues, Lewis lays out that prior to his wife's death, he thought he had a house built firmly on the rock that was solid and secure, but God has taken the tragedy of his wife's death and showed him that really his faith was like a house of cards. Upon the smallest of blows, the whole thing crumbles. This resonates with me because like Lewis during the good times, I convince myself that my faith is secure and strong, but then once adversity or tragedy comes, I find myself faltering in my faith and questioning God's goodness.

The goodness of God is another thing that comes up. If God is good, then how could He have let this happen. Lewis has written a book on the subject (The Problem of Pain) and does not go into much detail here. By the end, Lewis makes his case that all though he is hurting, God remains good and is good.

As you read the book, you might find yourself asking, "why did he recommend this again?" Why? Because Lewis is so honest that at times you feel as though he has lost his faith. But keep reading. As each page turns, so does his faith. Though Lewis is honest about his struggles, by the end, he finds himself almost healed and then ends with these words: "How wicked it would be, if we could, to call the dead back! She said not to me but to the chaplain, ‘I am at peace with God.’ She smiled, but not at me." -76

A fitting conclusion.
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