Monday, January 4, 2010


"Suffering comes from the abuse of free will"

The Problem of Pain ~ C.S. Lewis

Not surprisingly between my work and Joshua's, I've been returning to this quote more and more lately. Several years ago, I mentioned it to a friend who said she didn't believe it. I consider her one of the wisest people I know so her disbelief has always been hard for me to reconcile. I wonder, though, if she just misunderstood. Suffering does comes not only from our own abuse of our own free will, but far more frequently it comes to me as a result of another's abuse of their free will.

Of course there are extreme examples - thieves, drunk drivers, violent insurgents, rapists, murderers, adulterers, abusers...all causing deep suffering to so many for the sake of what they want to do or have. There are perhaps we could say the lesser offences - negligent drivers, careless insults, bitter people, who cause pain but don't even realize it.

Then there are almost unperceivable actions. Out of my free will, I decided to work from a coffee shop today. It's a luxury that most of the world can't afford even if their jobs were to allow it. Is this use of my free will causing suffering anywhere? The increase in demand for coffee from poorer nations? Is it abuse or merely use of my free will? Is it causing as Lewis recons, the types of pain that are below a certain intensity and not feared or resented at all. It's a thought to consider when we grab our morning latte, how about all the talk of greeness? What suffering will it cause if we ignore the ramifications of our actions carried out to their fullest influence? How often do we think of the full consequences of anything we do anyway?

So what of suffering? Ruminating on the cause, for me, ends with Lewis' quote. Someone somewhere or maybe many someones at many times or places abused their free will and thus pain for someone else was born. Which leads me to another favorite quote of Lewis' "It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. Truly we are called to love and care after each other in a far deeper way than we can imagine and none of us can possibly be up to the challenge on our own strength. Thus the mercy of God steps in whispering the actions of love whenever we are humble enough to accept it and yield our actions to in the benefit of another. Only then we can hope to approach the greater love that is to lay one's life down.


Joshua D. said...

That last paragraph is incredibly convicting! :S Good entry. Very thought provoking.

Erin said...

I know! isn't it. Kind of stinks when you're feeling selfish then you remember it's not all about you. Hate that moment. I mean, it's gotta come and it's good. but danggggg. I wish I could just always live in the loving unselfish spot, but I just do *not* have the hang of it. I can only thank God for moments of lucidity that produce such thoughts as above and give opportunity to the Spirit to do His great work.

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