Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Living with Lewis: Joy in Pain

“The notes have been about myself, and about H. (his wife), and about God. In that order. The order and the proportions exactly what they ought not to have been. And I see that I have nowhere fallen into that mode of thinking about either which we call praising them. yet that would have been best for me. Praise is the mode of love which always has some element of joy in it. Praise in due order; of Him as the giver, of here as the gift. Don’t we in praise somehow enjoy what we praise, however far we are from it? I must do more of this. I have lost the fruition I once had of H. And I am far, far away in the valley of my unlikeness, from the fruition which, if His mercies are infinite, I may some time have of God. But by praising, I can still, in some degree, enjoy her, and already, in some degree, enjoy Him. Better than nothing.” (Lewis, 79-80)
I’m moving through the last chapter of A Grief Observed now. This is the point where he’s slowly putting the pieces back together, the journeying onward and upward.
“I must do more of this.”
This I know is true for me. Because he hits it right on: praise is key in all circumstances. It doesn’t seem natural. Praise flows most naturally in good times, in times of plenty, in the high times. Praise does not come easily in the times of deep and utter despair.
And yet, perhaps, it is in those times when we most desperately need to praise. Lewis notes that by praise we enjoy God. Only by praise can we have joy. Only praise can lift our eyes from the broken mess we find ourselves in, from our own pain and suffering, from the darkness around us, to the light that is God himself. Praise is our reminder, our declaration, our cry that there is still a God, a God in control, a God who has not abandoned us, a God who still loves us. In some ways, it is our way of overcoming, of refusing to let our despair overtake us, our refusal to relinquish our hold on truth. Jesus said in the Gospels that truth will set us free. Praise is the declaration of that truth, the truth that we will be rescued, that this is not the end, that we are not stuck here, that there is hope, that there will come a day when all will be set right, that transformation is coming, that redemption is happening even now, that He has already overcome…

Praise is one vital mode of worship (see the Psalms for proof of this), of recognizing God for who he is and ascribing to him the glory He deserves. And through worship we enter into God’s presence, the presence of the Holy One, the Mighty One, the Redeeming One, the Rescuing One, the One Who Will Never Let Us Go. And we enter into His joy. And through this victory is found.

For more: read Psalm 22

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