Recently I’ve been re-reading C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. They are some of my favorite books and this is probably my fourth, if not more, time reading through the series. I never tire of the stories and always seem to find new truths when I re-visit them.
Last week I finished The Horse and His Boy and one scene in particular stood out to me. Shasta, the central character throughout, is lost and wandering on horseback feeling very bad for himself as he reflects on all the unfortunate events in his life.
Suddenly he realizes that something, or someone, is walking next to him. In the dense fog he can’t see this thing, but it speaks to him and asks about his troubles, so Shasta recounts everything, from his unhappy childhood without his real parents, to being chased by lions twice on his journey.
The voice replies, “I do not call you unfortunate” and Shasta argues, “Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?”
“There was only one lion,” the voice counters.
“I was the lion.” And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”
Those words gave me chills.
Haven’t we all had moments in our lives when we felt bad for ourselves? When we felt “unfortunate”? When we wondered why things kept going wrong or, at the very least, not going the way we wanted them to.
I certainly have, most significantly after Faith passed away at birth. For months afterward I wrestled with a verse I knew (or thought I knew) so well…
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
I accepted the truth of this verse, but struggled to understand how it looked in my life. How could the death of my baby work for my good?
Eventually I came to this conclusion – the good in this verse is not referring to my temporary (earthly) good but rather my eternal good.
God never promised we would live easy or comfortable lives. In fact we are told that we will face trials and suffering. But we are also told that He is refining us, and there is nothing more “good” in this life than to become more like Christ!
Furthermore, this verse, and it’s surrounding context, points to the glory of Heaven that we as believers can be sure of, which is the truest and best “good” of all…
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)
I believe there is a purpose in everything we experience in this life. Sometimes it may be to push us towards a person or place we wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. Sometimes it is for the benefit of others or to accomplish a larger goal outside ourselves. Sometimes it is for our growth and refinement in becoming more like Christ and learning to rely on Him more fully.
And sometimes it is simply a reminder of the future glory we have, for this world is not our home.
Through it all we are never alone. God is there, walking beside us even when we can’t see Him through the dense fog of our wanderings. He directs our steps. He comforts and protects. He writes the story of each of our lives.
He is the Lion.
Lewis, C. S. The Horse and His Boy. New York: HarperTrophy, 2000. (Quote: 164-165)