C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain writes, “My own experience is something like this. I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen and godless condition, absorbed in merry meetings with my friends for the morrow or a bit of work that tickles my vanities today, a holiday or a new book, when suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease, or a headline in the newspapers that threatens us all with destruction, sends the whole pack of cards tumbling down. At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happiness looks like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my only real treasure is Christ.”
And as I read this quote (or the whole book for that matter) I realize how desperately I need God to protect me from myself.
Sure I need protection from enemies. Sure I need protection from disease.
Sure I need protection from starvation. Sure I need protection from the harsh cold of January.
But Jesus asks me, “Is not life more than food and clothing?” And when I consider his question and how I, like Lewis, am reluctant to answer, “Yes,” I am forced to look at my life and confess that all these needs and more than those mentioned above have a hold on me and play with me and leave me in a place of dis-ease; that is, anti-rest.
Is it not right then that, as Lewis mentions earlier in the book, God makes my life less agreeable to me. Are the comforts of my life an illusion of peace? For sure heat is something I need in the winter. And no doubt, it makes me comfortable. But what about when it is removed? What then do I do?
The potential of frostbite is there. The potential of death is there.
In fact millions of people in the world, I’m sure, consider the potential of this world overcoming them today as a viable consideration.
How……..no……..who would I be then? What would be revealed then about my faith? About my understanding of peace? About my love for Christ? In fact the mere fact that I am now somewhat frightened by the possibility that I am not what I think of myself in a way guarantees that God MUST test me……..no……no……no………put me at ease.
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary,
you have been grieved by various trials,
so that the tested genuineness of your faith
–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–
may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
1Pe 1:6-7 (ESV)
Looking out the window right now I realize that God will test me.
I realize that my day is a mixture of faith in the sovereignty of God
and fear in the sovereignty of God.
I realize that I am not prepared to suffer.
I realize my willingness to show God my back.
I realize my desperate disease;
And now comes the fearful boldness to pray:
“Lord, you know more than I the state of my heart for You
and before You.
In Your intimate work with me have mercy on me Gentle Shepherd
for I am fragile.
My peace is fragile. My happiness is fragile.
Penetrate me with Your will.
Make me sensitive to my fears and sloppy contentment.
Withdraw me from my disease.
I understand that I must….first….see it
and let you bring me through it.
For if I do not, I’ll never rejoice; never be thankful; never be me.
Oh God! For Christ sake, in me, for You, let the world see a man in You at ease.”