Screwtape Letters Part 5: Repost

UPDATE: This is a repost (with certain edits/improvements) of my most popular blog series in honor of the 50th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ death.

Click here to get your copy of the 50th anniversary annotated edition.


screwtape-classicChapter 5

Once again, Uncle Screwtape is disappointed with the work report of his nephew Wormwood. However, in the light rebuke that he drafts, Screwtape attempts to mitigate some of the blame that he is placing upon his understudy:

“Reading between the lines in your very unbalanced account of the patient’s sleepless night, I can reconstruct your state of mind fairly accurately. For the first time in your career, you have tasted that wine which is the reward of all our labours – the anguish and bewilderment of a human soul – and it has gone to your head. I can hardly blame you. I don’t expect old heads on young shoulders.”

I have no idea if demons age or mature as illustrated here, but I think Lewis accurately points out something that would encourage a demon, if they could be encouraged: “the anguish and bewilderment of a human soul.” The reason I think that this might encourage a demon in his labors against a Christian is that an unsettled soul is the opposite of what we are supposed to have.

“O Israel, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in Lord; He is their help and their shield. You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield (Psalm 115:9-11 NASB).”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:4-5 NASB).”

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 NASB).”

Throughout the Scriptures, we are directed to trust in the Lord in all circumstances. The trouble is that the Bible doesn’t offer us wiggle room to trust the Lord when things are good and trust Him less when things appear to be bad, which, unfortunately, is a common pattern among many professing Christians.

It seems that we are often like the proverbial pouting child: happy when things appear to go our way, and pouty when they don’t. Yes, there is too much of the consumer culture’s “the customer is always right” among us. In our relationship with God, He is not a clerk and we are not customers. He is Lord and we are His servants. He is the potter, we are clay. How are you doing in this regard? Are you encouraging Wormwood & Co.?

In this regard, I was greatly encouraged when I read John Piper’s announcement that he has cancer because he is encouraged by the news. Don’t misunderstand, though. He isn’t giddy over the doctor’s findings. Instead, he is encouraged by this new avenue available to God to show His mercy, faithfulness, and strength. Piper explains this more fully in his article, “Don’t waste your cancer.” You can read it here.

To be continued . . .

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