The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis

At the beginning of April, I finished reading the classic, Christian non-fiction, The Problem of Pain by the celebrated Christian author, C.S. Lewis. I picked it up thinking it would be an apt read in the then and current climate of change, suffering and worry we find ourselves in because of the ‘pandemic-that-shall-not-be-named’.

‘If there is an all-powerful God, why does He allow suffering and pain?’

A question I think we have all found ourselves asking, whatever our belief or philosophy, when we encounter or have endured pain, loss and suffering. In this book, first published in 1940, C.S. Lewis: one of the greatest Christian thinkers, sets out to discuss and answer the above and other crucial questions surrounding God and pain, using his rich wealth of compassion, insight and knowledge; although he modestly claims in the preface that he isn’t that well-read and that much of what he will discuss was said by greater theologians before him.

Perhaps that is true, however Lewis has a common touch and a sense of grounding in his faith and writing that makes it accessible to regular folk like us; rather than just scholars, like those previous theologians did. Don’t get me wrong, with chapters exploring divine omnipotence, divine goodness, human wickedness, human pain, animal pain, heaven and hell, Lewis doesn’t shy away from the meat of the matter or from difficult theological ideas. While some of it went a little over my head, on the whole Lewis was able to make most of these tricky concepts understandable and relatable to me.

So, overall, I took a lot of inspiration, hope and comfort from readingΒ The Problem of Pain, and it turned out to be a very apt read for the times we find ourselves in. Hoping to get back to the other unread books I have in my C.S. Lewis boxed collection later in the year. For now my church’s book club is back up and running, via Zoom, which means my faith reading will be focused on the group’s new reading list. Great read.

Now I’d love to hear from you: Have you read this? Or have you read any of C.S. Lewis’s other books?

15 thoughts on “The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis

  1. This does sound like an apt read and it’s nice that you were able to get inspiration from it. I often hear people ask why God would allow suffering and while I’ve come to grips with that question, it can be hard to explain to others, or even if it’s not sometimes they don’t agree or see things that way, so something like this seems like a great read. Thank you for sharing it!

    1. You’re welcome, Greg and I agree: I had mostly come to terms with the question myself, but it was nice to read Lewis’s thoughts which confirmed a lot of my thoughts and adding some new ones too, and it would be a very useful to help explain to others. πŸ™‚

  2. This was a favorite book of my father’s, who passed away 16 years ago this week. I have not read it but now might be a good time, for the reasons you say and to honor my father.

  3. I really enjoy Lewis and read this one many years ago. I do find his work accessible, while at the same time making me think deeply. There are still some of his that I’ve missed reading over time (I have a couple in my TBR) and enjoy finding collections that draw from his various works.

    I’m glad it was the right time for you to read this one.

    1. Thank you, Kelly and great to hear you find Lewis’s work accessible and thought-provoking. In the collection I have, I still have Surprised By Joy, The Four Loves, Miracles and The Great Divorce to read. πŸ™‚

      1. I also have Surprised by Joy along with The Weight of Glory and a collection called Readings for Meditation and Reflection.

  4. Lewis is a very human writer, and this sounds like the kind of book I need right now. I’m glad you were able to get something from it, and I’ll try to get hold of it myself sometime soon.

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