Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis

Suffering is not an easy subject to approach. Humans are virtually incapable of approaching the topic objectively. We all have experienced suffering in some way. You may have felt it firsthand and/or you have empathized with a close friend. Suffering is an inescapable reality of life. We can try to run from it but it will always find us.

I think it is valid to admit that the modern American has never truly experienced suffering. Even an individual classified as “poor” typically has some general education, enclosed shelter, access to adequate nutrition. In comparison, billions around the world live on less than dollar a day, have no guarantee of clean food and water, and no safe shelter to shield them from the elements and their enemies. However, we do understand that suffering is not always a physical attribute, in fact suffering in the soul can feel even crueler.

C.S. Lewis, in my opinion, is one of the best thinkers in the twentieth century. His combined ability to think logically and communicate eloquently made him a superior scholar and an excellent apologist. Lewis recognizes that pain is a problem for a religion that believes God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and most importantly all-loving.

We agree God can do anything, but can the all-powerful overcome the impossible? Sunday school children love to ask the trick question, “Can God make a rock so big that He cannot lift it?” But to Lewis “nonsense remains nonsense even when you talk about God.” God cannot make a square with five edges because the rules indicate a square has four edges. God, though being all-powerful, has set the rules. In creation, He has given man free will and with free will the door to suffering is unlocked.

“Trying to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and existence of free wills are involved, and you find that you have excluded life itself.” Creation with free will unfortunately leads to suffering. God allowed for the opportunity, and we as humans regrettably pounced on the chance.

It is very clear that there is something very wrong with the world we live in. How in the midst of horrible suffering happening to us or around us did we ever come up with the idea of a loving God? God is real. This world is not our home. We will never be completely happy here because we will never be satisfied here. The one who satisfies is in Heaven where there is praise and no pain.

This is a very deep book that requires a lot of reflection. This book does not answer all of my questions, but no book on suffering will.