C.S. Lewis: Grief and Fear

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My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. Psalm 42:6-7

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me.”

C.S. Lewis in A Grief Observed (London: Faber & Faber, 1964) 1. This book contains the reflections of C.S. Lewis after the loss of his wife.

Lewis opens the book by commenting that grief feels like fear. The pain appears to paralyze the suffering person. It hinders his or her ability to comprehend reality, and they don’t want to be alone.

As I think about ‘compassion’ in 2020, I feel that God is leading me to identify with the feelings and situation of those who suffer, so that my generosity can meet and minister to them.

Often you and I might think we know what a hurting person needs but without compassion and tenderness, our efforts may miss or, God forbid, make a bigger mess of their situation.

I arrive in India last today. God is nudging me that I need to listen and do activities to connect with the hearts of people as individuals and groups before offering any advice or instruction. God help me.