What of Suffering?

I’m in a state of maniacal glee…not unlike a mad woman.
Have you ever been so infused with JOY that you begin laughing and crying at the same time, and felt like a
bubble bouncing along a stream?  I have been doing this all day.  Sometimes while reading, sometimes while
just driving along.  It begins bubbling up again, and I am like a crazy woman, driving down the road,
laughing crazily with tears running down my face.

I am experiencing the  book The Great Divorce by CS Lewis.  It is metaphorically named and takes
place in Heaven. It is based on a dream.  Yet, I read it and it seems so true…it resonates with me.

For a long, long time, I have had a feeling I could not quite put into words about the significance of suffering.

People have long asked why God allows people to suffer, and while there are several answers to this
question, one thing stands out in my mind, that is so hard to explain.  I felt, somehow, that on the other side, in eternity, it will seem as nothing.

When one’s friend has suffered a loss, or is suffering, (and lately it seems many have) my heart turns cowardly and can not, will not, brave answering the question. I simply express my pain at their pain, and do not suppose to suggest reasons we must suffer or any thoughts on the subject.

In The Great Divorce, I came upon this.  I want to share it with YOU.  I hope that this will entice you to
also read the book and that you too, will experience the same joy.  If you find that I have caused you to
yearn to read it too, and do not have the means, email me and I will try to provide you with a copy.

‘Son,’ he said, ‘ye cannot in your present state understand eternity: when Anodos looked through the door

of the Timeless he brought no message back.  But ye can get some likeness of it if ye say that both good

and evil, when they are full grown, become retrospective.  Not only this valley but all their earthly past will

have been Heaven to those who are saved.  Not only the twilight in that town, but all their life on Earth too,

will then be seen by the damned to have been Hell.  That is what mortals misunderstand.  They say of some

temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it.” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work

backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say, “Let me have but

this and I’ll take the consequences”: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past

and contaminate the pleasure of the sin.  Both processes begin even before death.  The good man’s past

begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad

man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness.  And that is why, at the end of

all things, when the sun reises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say “We

have never lived anywhere except in Heaven, “and the Lost, “We were always in Hell. ”  And both will

speak truly.’

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3 Comments

  1. Yes. Precisely. That is what is so tough to get across to a person in the midst of the grief. And you are right to not speak of it in the first stages of grief, that first searing realization of whatever has gone out of one’s life. When i grieved for my babies and somebody said they were better off–well, that shin-kicking foot got itchy! But when somebody said, “Your babies are safe in Heaven,”—oh, Kathleen, that spoke to my mama’s heart. They never had to deal with people laughing at them, never had to have a diaper rash, never had to deal with pain again–oh, yes, that spoke. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15. We want to heal the pain right now, and that is not doable. But eventually, we can speak to the direction people are going. Even so, as my mom has said for her own service, i want an altar call at my funeral.

    You are doing well, little sister. You are doing SO well!
    Lots of love, and many many blessings! —janey

  2. wow, thats a good book. its very hard for people to accept that God knows everything and that He is sovereign in the midst of suffering and loss. especially in the first stages of greif, it sounds like a punch in the gut. i find the most compassionate thing i can do is to cry with them and tell them i have no intention of telling them i know how they feel if i dont….

    Kafleen comments:

    Yes, you know, this reminded me of the list of childrens’ comments about love I received, then I remembered it was YOU who sent it! It was so beautiful I forwarded it out to a bunch of people (I don’t usually forward). Shall we share the one your comment reminded me of with the others?

    The winner was a four-year-old child whose next door
    > > neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his
    > > wife.
    > >
    > > Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old
    > > gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat
    > > there.
    > >
    > > When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the
    > > little boy said,
    > > ‘Nothing, I just helped him cry’
    > >

  3. you love dat buk too? i adore CS Lewis; few people that I know have read this one, and I am glad we have this in common. I hope some day we can meet in person (but of course, I hope you won’t be disappointed!)


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