Thursday, November 20, 2008

Earthly Comfort

I just finished Elizabeth Elliot's The Mark Of A Man the other night, (during my found-reading time, at three in the morning).  It's fresh enough that many of the lines that struck me as powerful are still rattling around in my noggin.  This afternoon, I decided to pick up C.S. Lewis's Collected Letters, Volume III, and remarkably stumbled upon a phrase that Elliot had quoted of Lewis.  When I read it in The Mark of A Man, I wondered what the source was, and then today in the several thousand pages of Lewis's letters, there it was, right in front of me.  

I figure with that kind of serendipity, it was worth posting on my blog.  It's also been rolling around in my mind as I think about Christianity and belief, and I think it explains a lot why individuals choose to redefine their beliefs in God to accommodate life that is discordant with God's teaching.

"It is quite useless knocking at the door of Heaven for earthly comfort:  it's not the sort of comfort they supply there."

I believe it is easy to distort the promise that Christ made regarding His yoke being easy and His burden light into believing that this should apply to our earthly comfort and satisfaction.  I think much of man's disbelief could be nullified if we clung to the truth of what Lewis wrote in this letter.

We all desire earthly comfort.  God didn't promise to provide that to us.  But He helps us to persevere in the very lack of that comfort, and calls us to come to Him for true comfort, to become like the woman at the well.  Sometimes life is a succession of getting through one day to the next, relying solely on His daily bread to get us through.  I also believe that this is exactly where he wants us:  to realize that we need Him completely and solely.  If lack of earthly comfort, or if by living daily with pain or sorrow, bring us to that realization, then we've been given a gift, albeit a painful one. 

But that, of course, doesn't mean that the voids in our lives that we feel so profoundly are any less palpably lacking.  Thankfully we're just here for a brief time, and one day soon, all we will know is abundant joy.  

(Source:  C.S. Lewis, Collected Letters, Volume III, p. 1102)

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