C. S. Lewis on Submitting with Patience

From The Screwtape Letters, number VI:

Your patient will, of course, have picked up the notion that he must submit with patience to the Enemy’s will. What the Enemy means by this is primarily that he should accept with patience the tribulation which has actually been dealt out to him—the present anxiety and suspense. It is about this that he is to say “Thy will be done”, and for the daily task of bearing this that the daily bread will be provided. It is your business to see that the patient never thinks of the present fear as his appointed cross but only of the things he is afraid of.

Here’s the whole book.

This is a profound point, if a simple one.  If you’re not familiar with the book, Lewis wrote it from the perspective of a demon instructing a younger charge in how to lead people to hell.  Where the text mentions “the Enemy,” it’s referring to God, not Satan.  In this passage, Lewis is calling our attention to the need to “submit with patience” to God, which in his understanding means living faithfully in the midst of our “present anxiety and suspense.”

I deeply appreciate this point, and I’m guessing many others will as well.  Every last one of us has “anxiety and suspense” over matters we want to resolve.  We think, “If I could just know who to marry, or where to serve the Lord, or what my career will be, then I would be happy, and all the other anxieties of life would be easy to handle.”  Lewis shows us, I think, that in point of fact we will always have to wait on God’s will.

The task for you and me as followers of Christ is to rest in him today, to lift up our concerns now, and then to live in patient submission to God’s will.  Don’t seek the release of tension; seek faithfulness as you wait on God.  That honors God even as it subverts Satan and his minions.

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