Screwtape devotes two whole letters (VIII and IX) to “undulation” – the peaks and troughs of our spiritual fervor, and how it can depend so much on many emotional and physical factors. Specifically the physical is certainly true in my case – when I can easily fall into despondency, probably because I feel I’m not in control. And the emotional certainly played a great role for Lewis, when he railed against God in his diary, “A Grief Observed”, because of the excruciating emotional pain he felt after Joy’s death.

Screwtape explains that it is through hardship permitted by the Enemy that a human being develops the spiritual strength to grow closer to Him. And as he says at the end of Letter VIII:

“Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s [God’s] will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

Something, at least for me, and clearly also for Lewis after Joy’s death, not easy to do, but to always try to keep in mind. God never permits our suffering unless it is for our spiritual benefit.


“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)