Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lewis on Suffering

In a letter dated September 12/1951:

I have not a word to say against the doctrine that Our Lord suffers in all the sufferings of His people (see Acts IX.6) or that when we willingly accept what we suffer for others and offer it to God on their behalf, then it may be united with His sufferings and, in Him, may help to their redemption or even that of others whom we do not dream of. So that it is not in vain; tho' of course we must not count on seeing it work out exactly as we, in our present ignorance, might think best. The key text for this view is Colossians I.24. Is it not, after all, one more application of the truth that we are all 'members of one another'? I wish I had known more when I wrote the Problem of Pain.

God bless you all. Be sure that Grace flows into you and out of you and through you in all sorts of way, and no faithful submission to pain in yourself or in another will be wasted.

As I have been thinking about this book, I've wanted to make a case to Protestants of the belief about redemptive, or salvific suffering. John Stott wrote that the concept of redemptive suffering, in the way that Catholics view it, is repugnant to the Protestant mind. It is great help to have someone held in such high esteem in Protestant circles make a case for just this philosophy. I think this letter is a Godsend, literally. Elisabeth Elliot also writes strongly about the possibility of "offering it up" on behalf of others.

I think working on this book has been the most grace-filled endeavor I've ever embarked upon, and whether or not it is ever published, the act of writing it has brought me much closer to Christ. Moments like stumbling upon that letter nearly give me goosebumps, and I realize time and time again that God is answering my prayer that I will "read the right stuff." He keeps sending me to it, and bringing it to me, constantly. I can't tell you how exciting it is!

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