701) Cheerful Insecurity

C. S. Lewis (left) with Paddy Moore (right) in World War I, 1917.

C. S. Lewis wrote this letter after the aged Mrs. Moore (who he calls his ‘mother’) went to live in a nursing home.  Mrs. Moore was the mother of Edward (Paddy) Moore, a friend of Lewis’s who was killed in the first World War.  Lewis had pledged to care for this friend’s mother, and for many years that care was a huge burden in Lewis’s life.  (From The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III.)

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30 December 1950

Yours was a cheering letter which warmed my heart (I wish it would have warmed my fingers too: as it is they will hardly form the letters!)…

Our state is thus:  my ‘mother’ has had to retire permanently into a Nursing Home.  She is in no pain but her mind has almost completely gone.  What traces of it remain seem gentler and more placid than I have known it for years.  Her appetite is, oddly, enormous.  I visit her, normally, every day, and am divided between a (rational?) feeling that this process of gradual withdrawal is merciful and even beautiful, and a quite different feeling (it comes out in my dreams) of horror.

There is no denying that our domestic life is both more physically comfortable and more psychologically harmonious for her absence.  The expense is of course very severe and I have worries about that.  But it would be very dangerous to have no worries– or rather no occasions of worry.  I have been feeling that very much lately: that cheerful insecurity is what our Lord asks of us.  Thus one comes, late and surprised, to the simplest and earliest Christian lessons!

. . . I am glad to hear your inner news.  Mine, too, is I think (but who am I to judge?) fairly good.  Let us pray for each other.

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Deuteronomy 8:11-14a  —  )Moses said), “Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.  Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God…”  (Moses here recognizes the danger in ‘having no worries.’  He warns them to be careful, because when they are settled in the promised land, and have all their physical needs met, they may become proud and forget the Lord.)

It is better to have some ‘occasions of worry’ and be forced to depend on and trust in God, as the following verses describe:

Psalm 73:26  —  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.

Psalm 56:3  —  When I am afraid, I put my trust in thee.

Lamentation 3:25-26  —  The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Philippians 4:6  —  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Psalm 46:1-2a  —  God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear…

And then, have a trusting, cheerful heart:

Proverbs 17:22  —  A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

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In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.

–Psalm 25:1

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