I watched the movie Shadowlands last week, it focuses on one part of CS Lewis’ life. The film reminded me of the author’s incredible contribution to Christian thought in the mid-20th century. According to Lewis’ 1955 memoir, Surprised by Joy, he was baptized into the Church of Ireland as a child, but as a teenager he gave up his faith. Partly through the influence of close friend and fellow author JRR Tolkien, Lewis rekindled his faith and became a committed Christian.

Lewis’s faith had an incredible impact on his work. He wrote many Christian classics, including the Chronicles of Narnia. His radio shows on the faith during World War II helped him become a respected Christian leader. His ability to defend and clarify Christianity has earned him considerable fame.

Shadowlands talks about Lewis’ relationship with talented American author Joy Davidman Gresham. She grew up in an atheistic Jewish home and eventually became a communist before converting to Christianity. As a New Believer, Gresham read several books by Lewis and wrote to him with questions. A pen pal relationship developed and the two became close friends. According to Lewis’s brother, what initially brought them together was their bright wits and unusual sense of humor. It wasn’t until Gresham separated from her abusive alcoholic husband that she and Lewis finally met when she and her two sons, David and Douglas, visited England.

During her visit, their friendship deepened, and on April 23, 1956, they were married into a civil marriage contract so that she could continue living in England even though they were not living as a married couple.

Soon after, Gresham developed severe pain in his hip. Doctors diagnosed him with terminal bone cancer. During her illness, Lewis realized how much he cared for her and the two were married in a Christian ceremony performed in her hospital room at Churchill Hospital on March 21, 1957.

Much to everyone’s joy and surprise, Joy’s cancer went into remission and the happy couple and their children lived together as a family until 1960 when their cancer returned. She died on July 13, 1960.

Lewis was overwhelming with grief. He recorded his thoughts in a journal. He finally turned his confused thoughts in the book, A Grief Observed. However, his experience was so personal that he chose not to publish it under his name, but as the NW Clerk. Friends suggested that Lewis read it without realizing that he wrote it. His secret was not revealed until after his death.

Lewis became very disillusioned but clung to his faith. The Old Testament hero Job expressed both his faith and his frustration when he wrote: “God might kill me, but I have no other hope. I will plead my case with him. (Job 13:15, NLT) It’s okay to struggle through loss. Lewis and Job teach us that we can ask God our honest questions. While it is not magic, praying through loss helps us reconnect with the loving God and find our perspective in the process.

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