God in a Box

Every idea of [God] we form, He must in mercy shatter. The most blessed result of prayer would be to rise thinking ‘But I never knew before. I never dreamed…’ I suppose it was at such a moment that Thomas Aquinas said of all his own theology, ‘It reminds me of straw.’

Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (1964)

It’s possible that you haven’t thought of it this way, but if you are a believer in Christ and have yet to walk through faith-shattering trials, you may have placed God in a box.

I know I had.

I thought that after decades of walking with Jesus, reading and studying Scripture and wading through some fairly significant trials I had God pretty well figured out.

I could quote verses for every occasion, open my Bible to any book without looking in the Table of Contents, and had something sprirtual to say about everything.

But now, like Job, I cover my mouth.

C.S. Lewis shared his grief journey after losing his wife in the book,  A Grief Observed.

What many may not know is that he was pressured to publish it under a pseudonym.  

His publishers and some of his close friends didn’t want people to know that this giant of the Christian faith, this celebrated apologist for believing Christ was shaken to the core by the death of his beloved bride.

Lewis resisted and I am so thankful.  

It brings me great comfort to know that one who was much more equipped to face a faith crisis found himself floundering in the ocean called sorrow and grief.

He knew where the boat was.  

But he, like me, wasn’t sure he wanted to climb back in.

Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of 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.”

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Grief has forced me to reexamine every notion I had of God and how He works in the world.  I’ve had to pull out all my theological assumptions and compare what I thought I knew to what is in the Bible and what I have experienced in life.

It is exhausting.  And necessary.

Like Lewis, I’ve discovered that I had ideas about God, but that they were not necessarily true: “My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself.” 

I had decided that God acted in certain ways, that prayers guaranteed certain results and that my life as a believer in Christ was destined to be one of favor and blessing because I was honoring Him.

My box for God included room for some pain and suffering-but definitely not enough space for Him to take my child and plunge me into this abyss of grief and sorrow.

What do people mean when they say, ‘I am not afraid of God because I know He is good’? Have they never even been to a dentist?”

C.S.Lewis

At the dedication of the Temple, Solomon prayed:

“But, God, will you really live here with us on the earth? The whole sky and the highest heaven cannot contain you. Certainly this house that I built cannot contain you either.”

2 Chronicles 6:18 ERV

God has broken out of my boxHe was never really in it to begin with.  

Only my ideas of Him could be contained in so small a space.

 

Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

7 thoughts on “God in a Box”

  1. Thank you Melanie. Once again you share thoughts I have thought, struggles I have faced, things that some find difficult to hear. I too loved the honesty and raw grief that CS Lewis shared. I too felt that it was okay for me to question and wrestle if he did. I too thought I had had my share of “suffering”. My faith, while sometimes seeming a bit feeble to others, is rock solid but no longer based on what many believe to be the specially “favoured” life believers are “entitled” to. I now know that just because we ask God to heal our child or keep them safe, His answer is not always what we envisage that to mean.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A hard, hard truth to embrace-but oh, so real. I am thankful for others who share their faith and struggles. I pray we will all continue to call “courage” to one another on this journey. May the Lord give you everything you need for today and each day, dear one.

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  2. “Melanie,

    I love this post!

    I was not aware that C.S. Lewis was pressured to publish “A Grief Observed” under a pseudonym, but his words – so many quotes from that small missive – resonate within and like a giant “Me too!” for me. Your words have the same effect on me.

    Lewis said some very controversial things in that book; like the quote above about his fear, not of losing his faith, but of learning such dreadful things about God. Only a pillar of the faith could have said those things and had them received and pondered. I remember thinking as I shared some of his thoughts, that had the quote not been attributed to the great C.S. Lewis, my Facebook posts would have been flooded with admonitions and reproofs as godly friends and loved ones scrambled to correct my heretical thinking. Yes, I too am thankful Lewis affixed his own name to “A Grief Observed”.

    And for me, grief is all about having my beliefs challenged and even shattered. And like you, I thought that honoring God in this life somehow ensured God’s protection from truly devastating pain and sorrow.

    Thank you, as always, for sharing your struggle as you continue to lean into this God and Savior whose thoughts and ways confound us even as He bends down to collect our tears, a precious testimony to the sacrifice of praise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t know about the pressure myself until recently. It’s funny how I often receive things from authors as if they are somehow “above the fray”. It’s easy for me to forget they were flesh and blood too. And I hope Lewis is somehow aware that his bravery is still helping others like me and you as we try to navigate this life of pain and sorrow.

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  3. Melanie! Thank you!!!! Thank you daily for your raw expression of your grief. My husband died almost 4 months ago….my husband is very different from your son….however, our grief is so very similar! Thank you for sharing your open, transparent, raw grief….I look forward each morning to read your post.
    Not that is matter, but I am an Alabama girl too (Springville.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paulette, I’m thankful the posts are a blessing. I’m so sorry for your loss and your pain. All grief is hard-I write from the only perspective I know-but losing a loved one hurts regardless of the relationship. May the Lord give you the strength you need for each new day and may He overwhelm your heart with His mercy and grace. (And yes, it DOES matter that you are an Alabama girl!)

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