success stories

Book: The Problem of Pain: How Human Suffering Raises Almost Intolerable Intellectual Problems
Author: C.S. Lewis
MacMillan, NY, pp. 160

Excerpt from Introduction:

When Mr. Ashley Sampson suggested to me the writing of this book, I asked leave to be allowed to write it anonymously, since, if I were to say what I really thought about pain, I should be forced to make statements of such apparent fortitude that they would become ridiculous if anyone knew who made them. Anonymity was rejected as inconsistent with the series; but Mr Sampson pointed out that I could write a preface explaining that I did not live up to my own principles! This exhilarating programme I am now carrying out. Let me confess at once, in the words of good Walter Hilton, that throughout this book “I feel myself so far from true feeling of that I speak, that I can naught else but cry mercy and desire after it as I may.”

Yet for that very reason there is one criticism which cannot be brought against me. No one can say “He jests at scars who never felt a wound,” for I have never for one moment been in a state of mind to which even the imagination of serious pain was less than intolerable. If any man is safe from the danger of under-estimating this adversary, I am that man. I must add, too, that the only purpose of the book is to solve the intellectual problem raised by suffering for the far higher task of teaching fortitude and patience I as never fool enough to suppose myself qualified, nor have I anything to offer my readers except my conviction that when pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage, and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.

Excerpt from Book:

Now the proper good of a creature is to surrender itself to its Creator — to enact intellectually, volitionally, and emotionally, that relationship which is given in the mere fact of its being a creature. When it does so, it is good and happy. Lest we should think this a hardship, this kind of good begins on a level far above the creatures, for God Himself, as Son, from all eternity renders back to God as Father by filial obedience the being which the Father by paternal love generates in the Son. This is the pattern which man was made to imitate — which Paradisal man did imitate — and wherever the will conferred by the Creator is thus perfectly offered back in delighted and delighting obedience by the creature, there, most undoubtedly, is Heaven, and there the Holy Ghost proceeds. In the world as we now know it, the problem is how to recover this self-surrender. We are not merely imperfect creatures who must be improved: we are as Newman said, rebels who must lay down our arms. The first answer then, to the question why our cure should be painful is that to render back the will which we have so long claimed for our own, is in itself, wherever and however it is done, a grievous pain.

Table of Contents:

1. Introductory

2. Divine Omnipotence

3. Divine Goodness

4. Human Wickedness

5. The Fall of Man

6. Human Pain

7. Human Pain, continued

8. Hell

9. Animal Pain

10. Heaven