"A Grief Observed."


When I was a teen, I had these weird fail-safes I set up in my life that I thought would buffer pain if I did them. I remember making elaborate plans of what to do if X, Y or Z happened. The first was not so wise, the second, not too shabby.

1. If I got married, and my spouse died, I'd move to africa. Why? I reasoned that a country so well acquainted with famine and death would give me hope on how to see Jesus in the midst of my own sorrow. I now know that my understanding of Africa was an americanized view. Africa is so much more than that. So much more beauty. But, my 17 year old self thought this was a good idea.

2. If I ever lost somebody, I was going to read "A Grief Observed" by C.S. Lewis.  I hijacked the complete works from a friend of mine back in highschool and distinctly remember him saying "I'm loaning this to you, I want it back.' Now its been several years since I've seen him and I still have his book. (sorry, dear friend.) If we ever see eachother again, I'm buying him a new one-because this one is too highlighted, dented, and cried through now.  So while reading these complete works over and over, I've reached this book before and refused to read it. It was on my "Not Now List."

But then, a few nights ago. I remembered. It was officially on the "Now List."

And this is what this post is about.

I don't know if I recommend reading a book about grief while grieving. It adds ammunition to a fire already blazing and to be honest, it hurts.Reading this propelled my heart into more tears and into bolder cries. At the same time, having someone I so deeply admire and respect regard his faith as a fallen house of cards and put to words some of the most seemingly-irrational of my thoughts (in a much more impressive prose) was both terrifying and relieving.  It gives hope. If  good ol Clive Staples Lewis still believes-then there may be good reason.

There is good reason.

But before I get to all that, Here are few of the quotes that most deeply resounded in my heart:

"Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not "So there's no God after all," but "So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'

"Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand."

"Because she is in "God's Hands." [in reference to why his dead wife is happier now] But if so, she was in God's hands all the time, and I have seen what they did to her here. Do they suddenly become gentler to us the moment we are out of the body? And if so, why? If God's goodness is inconsistent with hurting us, then either God is not good or there is no God: For in the only life we know, he hurts us beyond our worst fears and beyond all we can imagine. If it is consistent with hurting us, then He may hurt us after death as unendurably as before it."

"Or could one seriously introduce the idea of a bad God, as it were by the back door, through some sort of extreme calvinism? You could say we are fallen and depraved. We are so depraved that our ideas of goodness count for nothing or worse than nothing-the very fact that we think something good is presumptive evidence that it is really bad. Now God has in fact-our worst fears are true-all the characteristics we regard as bad: unreasonableness, vanity, vindictiveness, injustice, cruelty. But all these blacks (as they seem to us) Are really whites. It's only our depravity that makes them look black to us."

"An odd byproduct of my loss is that I'm aware of being an embarrassment to everyone I meet. At work, at the club, in the street, I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they'll 'say something about it' or not. I hate if they do, and if they don't. Some funk it altogether....I like best the well- brought up men who walk up to me as if I were a dentist, turn very red, get it over, and then edge away as to the bar as quickly as they decently can."

"You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood because a matter of life and death to you."

"The more we believe God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed-might grow tired of his vile sport-might have temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon who's intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. but is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren't.
Either way, we're for it."
"What do people mean when they say, "I am not afraid of God because I know He is good'? Have they never been to a dentist?"

And what I'm holding on to:

" And then one babbles-'if only I could bear it, or the worst of it, or any of it, instead of her.'  But one can't tell how serious that bid is, for nothing is staked on it. If it suddenly became a real possibility, then, for the first time, we should discover how seriously we had meant it. But is it ever allowed? 
It was allowed to One, we are told, and I find I can now believe again, that He has done vicariously whatever can be so done. He replies to our babble, "You cannot and you dare not. I could and dared."

I keep repeating so many of those phrases I just wrote. But that one especially. "You cannot and you dare not, I could and dared."

I'm happy that not all of life is captured in writing. These weeks have been highs and lows and highs. And I'm learning how much of a private matter grieving seems to be. My body seems to just straighten up when others come in the room.  My brain and heart have been on overdrive and there's a sort of rawness to it all when everything goes still. But there are certain things I'm certain of that I end up landing on every time my mind takes me on these drives.

I know God was there when we found out the news of our babe. I heard him.

I know what I would be if it weren't for following him in this life. And I don't want that life.

I know that we were made in his image-meaning that while flawed- as christ redeems, we learn what good is.

Too many years of too many christians have agreed on so much of the Characteristics of God. Could we be all wrong? Perhaps. But the Word, and the Miracles, and the Joy, and the lives redeemed. The death of Jesus.Too much evidence and too much support for the contrary. God. is. good. He loves his babes. To death.

I know what sin feels like. I know what living in it is. And I know that being with Jesus is different.

I know that he knows death. That he's been dead. And I know he lives.

I know that getting us out of here was the kindest gesture he could give us. Sin entered-so he planned to get us out. I refuse to be mad at him for that. Even if the passage out feels so dark. But "Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like day, for darkness is as light to you."

Ultimately it all comes down to this:
He Knows.  He's Good. He's Faithful. He Redeems. He Restores. He Cares. He gets the final word and it is good.

So, I will follow.


  1. I think it's really appropriate that your blog is called "Celebrating Daily".

    1. I think this might be my favorite comment ever. So excited to see you this sunday.