What is there to say about the pain of love? It’s horrible to the extreme so much in some cases only by God’s grace we can come out at the other end a better person, molded more in the image of Christ. I think this is one of the reasons God allows such pain in our lives to exist. Yet sometimes we question God to the point we scream at Him, “WHY! Why must I go through this hell?!”
Late last night I was reading a biography on C.S. Lewis. If not before, he has become my most favored author of all time because not simply his children stories or space trilogy but the things he had to endure in life physically, mentally and spiritualy. And when he did marry...such love was in the air...though for too short a time! Joy, his wife, had cancer and was dying.
Something stood out at me in one of the things Lewis did that will probably forever be etched in my memory. It’s a time when he was watching Joy go through a phase in cancer where she was about to die.
“For some time already Jack had been intrigued by a certain phenomenon: a miracle whereby one person actually takes on another’s suffering. Charles Williams had insisted it was true. Jack himself had used it in Till We Have Faces. Even Tolkien half believed it, once hearing a very convincing story of such substitution from his own dentist. So Jack began to pray for such a thing. One day when Joy’s legs ached so intolerably she could no longer hide it and she cried in agony, Jack went off to pray more fervently than ever for God to transfer Joy’s pain to him. ‘Please God,’ he begged, ‘You must let this pain pass to me.’”
It goes on to say that Lewis suddenly experienced pain himself and kept from screaming only by gritting his teeth. It also goes on to say how Joy was suddenly recovering and Lewis questioned himself as to whether this was a miracle or a scheme of the devil. “Oh, how the devil would enjoy such a trick!”
I’m not even going to argue the point as to whether this was a miracle of God transfering the overwhelming pain from Joy to Lewis. But if such is possible, then the love he had for Joy was awesome. Myself...there is one person in this world I would gladly suffer like that for. I think I can at least begin to understand the kind of love Lewis experienced.
I think to best summarize it, love grows how Lewis explained it to a close friend. “In his letter to a friend, his love for Joy had begun with agape, or Christian charity. Then it had grown to include philia, the undemanding love between friends. Later eros, physical love, had developed. Agape seemed to have incarnated for Jack. He was quite struck by that.”
When Joy died, Lewis mourned greatly, his journal saying as much even as much as questioning God, with darker thoughts but finally it came to an end in reasoning.
“Joy...and all the dead are...remote...like God. In that respect loving her has become, in its measure, like loving Him...there’s no practical problem before me at all. I know the two great commandments, and I’d better get on with them...While she was live I could, in practice, put her before God...”
“...last night’s experience...was quite incredibley unemotional. Just the impression of her mind momentarily facing my own...Not at all like a rapturous reunion of lovers but...intimacy that had not passed through the senses or the emotions...yet...complete- sharply bracing... (If that is the love of the world beyond!) how many preconceptions I must scrap! (The world beyond is not emotional but)...solid. Utterly reliable. Firm. There is no nonsense.”
“How wicked it would be, if we could, to call the dead back! She said, ‘I am at peace with God.’”
I sometimes visualize the future that is just so...unknown. I see myself with a woman so beautiful, so awesome in spirit, the same as C.S. Lewis saw in Joy somewhat. Yet through it all I ask myself what am I suppose to do with her? So many years...I’ve never known love. I screamed and cursed God for allowing me to live in hell. Who am I to know what sort of love a woman needs or the type of touch. As she had often said to me, a woman is fragil like glass and needs a man who is in tune with her knowing how to treat her. I read the Bible on such love and was so overwhelmed once I began to understand the concept that God places on love. It’s...beyond understanding, a perfect, pure symbol of God’s relationship with man. It took my breath away and I prayed all the more for such a relationship, of more understanding. How many years had I longed for just that thing...
Another time a discussion came up about not needing each other. It disturbed me and I never had to chance to give my own view on it. I did however talk with a friend who pretty much helped me understand all the more what I have always held fast to concerning the need for each other.
We talked more of the roll of a husband and wife and the responsibility of it all, the weight of it. So much God requires of a man...yet I have to believe is that which drives a man. We are in essence the symbols of God’s character, Character rolls playing in one masterful tapestry or painting. Each piece pointing towards God Himself.
Quoting from the conversation,
“Its as if she takes everything I say to be the truth....
“well...... let me tell you, My great-grandfather did not believe that man walked on the moon. He said it was some Hollywood stunt. And my great-grandmother (his wife) backed him up all the way. If he said it...she believed it. And that was that.”
“....that's what scares me...what if Im wrong?”
“Well, grandfather was wrong...that's why I wouldn't want that ultimate burden of a man. Being the head of the family is not about power as so many women these days seem to think. And that's why you stay close to your Lord and you keep your hand in His while her hand is in your other hand. It's the only way to go.”
“I think I started to realize what I was getting myself into when I saw how she reacted to everything I said....but I dont think I understood it fully till this year.”
“It's an awesome responsibility. Eh?”
“Its just....something I've never dealt with...sort of like a shock...or never saw
“but it touches your heart too...does it not?
“My mother always felt that marriage was more than just the coming together of two people...to her it's also a spiritual bond. I have to say after 13+ years that I agree.”
“I just have to wonder how many women would be as willing as my love...I still am trying to understand why.”
“My dear heart...in today's world...not many of the "old-fashioned" kind are left. Now you sound like my husband.”
Love is such an awesome thing. Yet one last thing comes to mind as I think about all of this. God specifically said that loving Him would not be easy. I have to think loving another person in today’s world has become hard as well, unnaturally so. For God has been taken out of the picture, man curses God and His moral law. It strips away the foundation of all love, all commitment and tears at the very heart of marriage and bonding. When reading about C.S. Lewis, when he had become a Christian, one of his greatest fears was looking at man and seeing how we were deteriating into humanism, not caring for the moral law and having no care for God. Thus the literature he was so found of reading had become garbage, not fit for anyone to read. It showed exactly what the heart of man was and where we were headed.
Today is no different. And where is love? People murder and rape without so much as a consciounce. Man and woman have sex without regard of the fact it is sin outside of marriage and they don’t even get it! They are blind! Their hearts are blinded to the truth and love is for the most part, and this is what scares me most of all....is dying. It tears at my heart so much I want to cry sometimes. Here I have the ability to write words but who will hear them? Who will hear my voice when there is no love? Those who hate love will curse me for my love comes from God above first. Those who have a sense of love are like me: we fear to speak the truth in the idea that we will be shouted down, rejected.
I have to believe if we want to pour Christ back into the world, to show the true lover of every man’s heart, we cannot go at it alone. Otherwise we will fall on our faces the very first try. I have a saying that speaks it all for me as to what to do.
"In all the world, True friendship is the biggest mystery of all, other than the mystery of God Himself. You can speak without fear, cry without shame, love without holding back, laugh with all your heart and feel that you have touched a part of God. Friendship is probably God's way of saying, 'This is why I created you.'"
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. Copyright 1961 by N.W. Clerk,
Heroes Of The Faith-C.S. Lewis Copyright 1997 by Sam Wellman