**This was for an assignment I wrote for my literature class. Please, if you do not completely agree with something that I am saying here, let all of our discussions point back to God in the end. Thank you.**
In C.S. Lewis’s “A Grief Observed” he is writing through his own personal hellish pain and grief as a result of losing the love of his life. Through Lewis’s grieving he is asking hard questions about the goodness of God, and how He could remain pure, noble, and true if He has the power to take away the people who are closest to us. Lewis writes about the characteristics of God from a different perspective and scope than we are all used to. C.S. Lewis said that God has the characteristics that all living and breathing human beings “regard as bad: unreasonableness, vanity, vindictiveness, injustice, cruelty.” C.S. Lewis also talks about the depravity that is within all people that makes these hard characteristics of God look like “blacks”. Lewis says that it is not that they are actually blacks, but “our depravity that makes them look black to us.”
2.To begin with, this part of C.S. Lewis’s “A Grief Observed” was quite perplexing to me as I read it for the first time. Not so perplexing that makes it so I cannot understand it, but perplexing in the sense that is it theologically deep. What C.S. Lewis is saying is understandable once it is read the first time through, but it seems as though a little bit more attention needs to be called to what C.S. Lewis is trying to say to the reader, and quite possibly, what he is saying to himself as the writer. When C.S. Lewis writes about some characteristics that God possesses as being “bad”, it seems as though it may be mandatory for the reader to stop for a while and look at the God of the universe through a different lens.
This excerpt is about being called to look at God through a different lens. It is true that God is good, loving and sovereign. However, I believe that C.S. Lewis is calling us to look past all of the magical and mystical qualities of God and see Him as a being that is truly all powerful who holds the ability to unleash His wrath upon His people. Beyond that, C.S. Lewis is challenging us to not see these qualities of God as negative, but rather, to look at them as qualities that are still good, noble, and true.
As human beings we cannot fathom qualities such as “unreasonableness, vanity, vindictiveness, injustice, cruelty” as qualities that God could possess. We struggle to wrap our minds around the possibility that God holds these qualities in his hands. We have always been taught in Sunday school and in church that God is good, and that he always has our best interest in mind. Our brains have been trained to view God as a being that can only bring good things to His followers. Perhaps this is why, when something “bad” happens, believers struggle to believe that this could possibly be from the hands of God. When we experience any sort of tragedy in our own lives we automatically turn to God – not for help. Instead, we cry out to God and shake our fist at the sky and utter this question, “How could you do this? Why?” We take our heartbreak and blame the God of the universe for our pain. All of our beliefs about God being a good God are flipped and we begin questioning if God is even there.
Perhaps, it is due to our Sunday school teachings on the goodness of God that cause us to see God this way, at least in part. As human beings, we’ve always grown to know that if someone loves us they will show us through kindness and tenderness. Not through taking loved ones from our lives or cruelty from people we have always believed loved us. C.S. Lewis says that our depravity is what causes us to see “whites” as “blacks”, which is what causes us to view the grief in our lives as bad. It may not be until we see Jesus face to face that we will be able to fully understand this in full, but it might do us some good to try and view God through a different lens than what we have always known.
4.The details in the text that point to the reading I have just given include C.S. Lewis’s musings on the possibility of humans viewing God as a being with characteristics that are viewed as “bad” as an excuse to completely write God off. This directs us back to our depravity, and our inability to view God as a being who possesses characteristics that could potentially hinder us on purpose. Not only that, but it also shows us that we have this one sided view of God in our minds and that we are practically incapable of getting past this one specific viewpoint of God. We want to know in our hearts and in our minds that God is and always has been good, and that he would never do anything to harm us. If we decided to give our lives to a God who was wrathful and cruel, would we really want to be associated with a being who possesses these qualities? I am not so sure.
What does this mean for us as the readers? I think it is important that we become aware of our attitudes toward who we say God is and who we believe God to be. It is simple to go to God with our problems, but when something in our lives goes haywire we reject the goodness of God. Maybe viewing God differently than what we have always known may do us some good, and might help us to understand the work of God in our lives. Not only that, but it may help us to grieve better, and to trust God’s presence in our lives better. It may teach us to not put God in a box. Instead, we can learn and keep in mind that God is a very powerful being. He has the power to drop a hurricane in the ocean, and he has the power to take loved ones from us. This does not discount His goodness, but it is a reminder to us that He does possess qualities that we never thought He did. We need to constantly be reminded that God loves us, but sometimes His love is just like that of the parents who raised us. He puts trials in our lives because He loves and cares for us. We need to hold on and trust in this God who is wrathful, beautiful, cruel, and loving because He still holds us in the palm of His hand. He cares for us.