In 1961, C. S. Lewis published a book under a pseudonym. He did this because his book, “A Grief Observed” was so full of raw despair and emotion that he wanted to avoid identification as the author. He was right to do so, because in 1963, just after his death, it was published under his name, and was widely criticized because so many of his fans refused to believe that a Christian man could be so close to despair.
The book is a collection of C. S. Lewis’ reflections on the experience of bereavement following the death of his wife in 1960. If you’ve never read the book before, I highly encourage you to do so. “A Grief Observed” is extremely candid, and it details the anger and bewilderment Lewis had felt towards God after his wife’s death, as well as his impressions of life without her. The period of his bereavement was marked by a process of moving in and out of various stages of grief and remembrance, and it becomes obvious that it heavily influenced his spirituality.
Lewis ultimately comes to a revolutionary redefinition of his own characterization of God: experiencing gratitude for having received and experienced the gift of a true love.
So why was the book so widely scrutinized? Was Lewis, a Christian author, not allowed to have emotions of loss and despair?
Too often people are only allowed to suffer on a timeline that is considered acceptable by societal norms. People are only allowed to grieve in ways that are predictable and “normal”. What does that even mean?!
When you are in a season of mourning, remember to be patient in the process. You cannot grieve overnight. There is not “quick-fix” solution. The pain we experience hurts, and it is only natural to want to move through it quickly and get it over with. However, we must remember that grief is a process, and the length of time it lasts depends on many factors, such as the type of grief and the personality of the person walking through it.
I often become impatient with both God and myself in the process, wanting to simply “be done” with the trial or grief I am experiencing. But God ultimately cares more about our personal growth and intimacy with God than checking grief off a list.
When you become impatient with the process fix your eyes back on Christ and rest in knowing that His grace is always enough and His power is made perfect in weakness.
It is also important to remember to not compare your suffering to anyone else. I often find myself thinking that I need to get over myself when I’m grieving because so many people have it way worse than I do. But when we minimize our hurt because we are comparing our suffering with another person’s, we miss out on allowing Christ to meet us in our pain. Or we may fall back into seeking to numb our pain, because we don’t believe it’s “bad enough.”
Yes, we need to keep our trials in perspective, but each of our trials and difficulties will look different. Don’t miss out on allowing God to grow you and heal you through your experiences.
Suffering has the potential to help us if we allow it. James 1:2-4 tells us to “think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing.” Jesus even tells us in John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In the middle of suffering, it is really, really hard to see that this could be a season of change for good, especially in the darkest times of grief. But hold onto that hope. Hold onto the faith that you had when things were good and know that God will lead you through this time and into the next.
Our meditation today comes from Psalm 63. This Psalm is attributed to David, written when he was in the Desert of Judah.
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
Those who want to kill me will be destroyed;
they will go down to the depths of the earth.
They will be given over to the sword
and become food for jackals.
But the king will rejoice in God;
all who swear by God will glory in him,
while the mouths of liars will be silenced.