Persevering in Difficult Times

In C.S. Lewis’s book, The Screwtape Letters, Lewis presents the correspondence between a Senior Devil . . . Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood. It is Screwtape’s role to guide the young Wormwood in his task to lead a young man away from his newfound faith in God. Through the course of the book, we find Screwtape giving advice to Wormwood about the young Christian. Wormwood is to “work hard on disappointment . . . keep him from praying . . . get him to take offense at petty irritations of family life.” Wormwood is told to cause despair, or a long period of chronic suffering. When his charge goes to church, Wormwood is to get the man to think that he is better than the other people and to think that the rest of the people are hypocrites.

“Let him be disappointed in people. Remind him of the prayers that aren’t answered with the speed and in the way that he expects. Try to get his anger up – get him disillusioned, the long dull monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or middle-aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather. You see,” Screwtape writes, “it is so hard for these creatures to persevere . . . the inarticulate resentment with which we teach them to respond to it all . . . this provides admirable opportunities of wearing out a soul.”

I don’t know how much Screwtape or other devils have to do with it, but as a nation, we have grown bitter and cynical toward anyone whose belief system, does not align with ours. Our political divides keep us from realistically dealing with the issues of our time. Be it school shootings, the impact of climate change, immigration reform and a host of others . . . All caught in our ‘prime time’ info wars.

We may feel like a cog in a wheel, unable to break through. The temptation is to give up. To tell ourselves nothing will or can change. We are tempted to believe that God doesn’t have anything to do with our day-to-day world. We begin to wonder if our faithfulness makes a difference.

Most of all, we forget that God loves and cares for us in the midst of all we face. The Apostle Paul has a remedy for us. You’ll find it in the 6th chapter of the book of Ephesians, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of God’s power. Put on the whole armor of God . . . so you may be able to withstand on that evil day and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith . . . take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication.” Ephesians 6:10-18

Change makers are those who believe in the righteousness of their God given dreams. They stand firm in God’s care, trusting that God who has led them to pursue justice and seek compassionate answers, will guide them through their battles.

Today may be frustrating or painful, but the love we are held in, is eternal. This love never ends. It will be here today, tomorrow and in all of our other tomorrows. Thanks be to God.


A version of this post was previously published as, “Are You Listening to Screwtape or to God,” January 21, 2015

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