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From the Fall 2012 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

C.S. Lewis on the Problem of Pain

by Jana Harmon
Teaching Fellow, C.S. Lewis Institute - Atlanta


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  Pain, then, in and of itself is not completely bad or evil. It can come from the hand of a good, loving, and powerful God who desires the best for His creation, who genuinely allows for us to be free agents who make free choices. The possibility and reality of pain and suffering is palpable and at times devastating to both victim and perpetrator. Regardless, pain can and does serve redemptive purposes in the lives of those who turn toward God. In light of this, our constant prayer to our loving, good, and powerful Father in heaven should be that of the psalmist: “Deal with your servant according to your love” (Ps. 119:124 NIV).
  Yes, God is completely good.
  Yes, God is completely powerful.
  Yes, pain and suffering exists.
  The existence of pain does not negate the presence of an omnipotent, loving God. When understood in the fullness of its context, we realize that it is the very presence of God that provides meaning and hope amid the pain. Christ was the ultimate, innocent bearer of unjust suffering. In the face of abject pain, self-sacrificial love, goodness, and power are met on the cross.


1. C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (1940; repr., San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001), 14.
2. Van A. Harvey, A Handbook of Theological Terms (New York: Macmillan, 1964), 236.
3. Lewis, Problem of Pain, 16.
4. Peter Kreeft, lecture on The Problem of Pain, http://www.peterkreeft.com/audio.htm.
5. Lewis, Problem of Pain, 32.
6. Ibid., 27.
7. Ibid., 18.
8. Ibid., 19.
9. Ibid., 25.
10. Ibid., 31.
11. Ibid., 32.
12. Ibid., 39.
13. Ibid., 40–41.
14. Ibid., 46.
15. Ibid., 46–47.
16. Ibid., 85.
17. Ibid., 91.
18. Ibid., 94. 

Jana Harmon is currently a Teaching Fellow and has served on the Ministry Team and Board of the C.S. Lewis Institute - Atlanta since 2008. She leads Apologetics Forums for women around the Atlanta area addressing tough questions confronting the Christian faith, affirming the historic Christian worldview. Jana holds a M.A. in Christian Apologetics from Biola University, La Mirada, CA and a M.S. in Communication Disorders from the University of Texas at Dallas.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  Knowing & Doing is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.

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