C.S. Lewis, Grief, and the Holiday Season

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C.S. Lewis, Grief, and the Holiday Season

As we enter the holiday season, there is so much to be joyful and thankful for this time of year. The weather gets cooler, and all the fun fall activities begin. Things like pumpkin carvings, hayrides, Halloween and more have come and gone. For those that love to hunt, deer season has begun and the smell of turkey and stuffing filled our dining rooms. Christmas is near and we are in Advent, and (soon) Epiphany where we anticipate and remember the story of our Lord entering our world as a baby and coming down to save us. It’s a special time for sure. But, for many of us, it can be a time of sorrow and grief. The absence of dear loved ones is ever before us. Thanksgiving used to be one of my favorite holidays. Every year, we would venture over to my grandfather’s house and if I close my eyes, I can still see the house filled with food and desserts, decorations everywhere and the warmth of the fireplace hitting my face. But then, one day, the Lord saw fit to take him home. And shortly after my mom and stepdad went to glory as well. And soon those Thanksgivings became pictures and memories instead of joy and excitement.

Recently, I had the opportunity to go to San Diego for the Here We Still Stand national conference for 1517. There were many excellent speakers, but one talk stood out to me and influenced this article. It was Chad Bird’s talk on “The Problem of Pain.” The theme of the conference was on the life and work of C.S. Lewis. Lewis wrote many influential books including his famous fiction series, The Chronicles of Narnia. But many may not know that Lewis also wrote a couple of outstanding books that can serve as a balm for the souls of those who are grieving this holiday season. Those books are The Problem of Pain & A Grief Observed. Lewis wrote the second book shortly after losing his wife to cancer. I shared this quote from The Problem of Pain last week at the communion table.

Soon those Thanksgivings became pictures and memories instead of joy and excitement.

"We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists on being attended to. God whispers to us in pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world” [1].

The holiday season can feel this way. The silence shouts to us that our friend, husband, wife, parent isn’t around. Yet, Lewis sits with us in those moments and has some wisdom.

“God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In his trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew my temple was a house of cards. His only way to make me realize the fact was to knock it down…I need Christ, not something that resembles Him” [2]. 

We aren’t on our own...even in this season. We have Jesus. We are kept.

And there it is in that last line. “I need Christ, not something that resembles Him." Our only hope in life and death is that we are not our own. We aren’t on our own...even in this season. We have Jesus. We are kept. Even when we can’t keep ourselves. So, know dear brother and sister, that you are loved this holiday season. And you’re not forgotten. In fact, God has given you His Church, an extended heavenly family on earth to come beside you and make new holiday memories with. Let’s come around each other this season and be the family we are missing.

[1] (C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, pg. 91)

[2] (C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, pg.52 & 65)