Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Living with Lewis: A House of Cards

I finished A Grief Observed  the other night. It’s amazing (per usual for C.S. Lewis). Anyways, I’m on my second read through it now. I’d love to share everything at once, but I haven’t entirely grasped it all yet myself (although I doubt I’ll ever quite grasp it all). Plus that would lead to quite the long post. So I’ll just share bit by bit that which caught my attention.

“I had been warned- I had warned myself- not to reckon on worldly happiness. We were even promised sufferings. They were part of the programme. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accepted it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for…The case is too plain. If my house has collapsed at one blow, that is because it was a house of cards. The faith which ‘took these things into account’ was not faith but imagination…If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came. It has been an imaginary faith playing with innocuous counters labelled ‘Illness,’ ‘Pain,’ ‘Death,’ and ‘Loneliness.’ I though I trusted the rope until it mattered to me whether it would bear me. Now it matters and I find it didn’t.” (53-54)

Have you ever discovered that your faith wasn’t quite so strong as you thought it was? For me it seems it happens so often. I’m so good at building houses of cards and fooling myself into thinking they’re quite solid after all. But then the wind comes and everything’s fallen to pieces again and all I can pray is “I believe, oh God, help me in my unbelief…”

This very thing came up in Bible study last night when reading John 11. Lazarus dies, despite his sisters' pleading with Jesus to come and healing. Jesus tells his disciples that everything will work out, that this won't end in death for Lazarus, but he does nothing of the sort for poor Mary and Martha. So when he finally comes, four days late, Martha goes out to meet him with this cry: "If only you had been here, my brother would not have died."
But she doesn't stop there. No, she follows up her cry with this: "But even now, I know that God will give you whatever you ask."
And in that moment Martha exemplifies the kind of faith we are called to, faith that cries out to God in the darkest moments: "Even now, I know that you will deliver me."

I believe, oh God, help me in my unbelief

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