Last Sunday the Orthodox churches celebrated our Lord’s Resurrection. The following is a translation of a meditation on that subject from “Day by Day”, the Russian book of daily scriptural meditations, followed by some thoughts by Lewis:
Scripture: “To know Him and the power of His Resurrection” (Phil: 3, 10)
"Christ died on the Cross. What was it like for the apostles, His friends and all the disciples to survive such an event? They had hope until the last minute – such an outcome seemed impossible, unthinkable. They were expecting something unexplainable which should have prevented this calamity. But no, the inexorable death destroyed all their hopes and turned all their dreams into dust.
"Has it happened that some of us have also experienced something like this? Have we also encountered on our life’s journey unexplainable events, trials which tore our souls apart, mysterious inconsistencies and enigmatic tasks which made it seem that the sun no longer shone and the moon no longer gave its light?
"The same thing that the first Christians experienced then, looking at the fresh grave which robbed them of That which was most dear and holy, is repeated with us. The heaviest blows of fate unexpectedly fall on us; in our midst, in the midst of an abundantly overflowing life, comes death, and takes from us that which is most precious, and we are numb with grief. The most difficult thing for the Savior’s disciples was that, because of their limited understanding, they could see in this death the supposed contradiction of their expectations. From His words they understood that He was the Life and the Truth, and that, believing in Him, they would not see death, and that the Father is in Him; how then could they explain this sudden disappearance?
"Oh, my brothers, do you really want now to understand the ways and intentions of the Lord? Where then is your faith? It is only from total darkness and complete blindness that a living and true faith arises. Complete trust in Him only appears when we can not feel nor see anything before us. How often does our rebirth take place in the midst of grief, tempests, disappointment and shattered hopes?
"It is through the mortification of our flesh and the shattering and elimination of our pride that we achieve unquestioning submission to the Law of love.
"The Resurrection of Christ appeared as suddenly as an earthquake. It was expected least of all – it seemed impossible. But the ‘power of His resurrection’ will free you as well. Remain firm amid the darkness, and light, power and love will illuminate you; do not give up hope! He seems dead to you, but He lives forever and has loved you with unending love. Your victory will be a victory for others as well. The Lord will show His power in you; people will see your faith, your submission in trials, your long-suffering, your spiritual joy in the midst of grief, your imperturbable peace in the midst of the storms of life, and they will say: 'This is the fruit, this is ‘the power of His Resurrection!’
“Through this power of Christ, manifested in your weakness, it will be given to you to fulfill even the unfulfillable and achieve the unattainable.”
The primary idea of the above meditation is that we should have a strong faith. For me, it brings to mind Lewis’s essay, “On Obstinacy in Belief”. His main thought is that once we have come to believe certain things, based on proper reasoning and other factors, we should not abandon that belief. As Lewis says:
“[If we have come to believe that] human life is in fact ordered by a beneficent being whose knowledge of our real needs and of the way in which they can be satisfied infinitely exceeds our own, we must expect a priori that His operations will often appear to us far from beneficent and far from wise, and that it will be our highest prudence to give Him our confidence in spite of this.”
Of course, Lewis himself temporarily lost this confidence in a loving God after Joy’s death. When one is suffering it is not easy to always maintain it.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)