from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

We are perplexed to see misfortune falling upon decent, inoffensive, worthy people—–on capable, hard-working mothers of families or diligent, thrifty, little trades people, on those who have worked so hard, and so honestly, for their modest stock of happiness and now seem to be entering on the enjoyment of it with the fullest right.  How can I say with sufficient tenderness what here needs to be said?  It does not matter that I know I must become, in the eyes of every hostile reader, as if  I were personally responsible for all the sufferings I try to explain……But it matters enormously if I alienate anyone from the truth.

Let me implore the reader to try to believe, if only for a moment, that God, who made these deserving people, may really be right when He thinks that their modest prosperity and the happiness of their children are not enough to make them blessed:  that all this must fall from them in the end, and that if they have not learned to know Him they will be wretched.  And therefore He troubles them, warning them in advance of an insufficiency that one day they will have to discover.  The life to themselves and their families stands between them and the recognition of their need;  He makes that life less sweet to them.   I call this a Divine Humility because it is a poor thing to strike our colors to God when the ship is going down under us; a poor thing to come to Him as a last resort, to offer up “our own” when it is no longer worth keeping.  If God were proud He would hardly have us on such terms:  but He is not proud,  He stoops to conquer,  He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him, and come to Him because there is “nothing better”  now to be had.

75 comments on “the Divine Humility”

  1. *There is nothing better now to be had*… sweet that is. Bless you Edie for YOU are encouraging ME. And HE is pleased. Much love, angela (Love Being A Nonny)

  2. One of my favorite C.S. Lewis books that I haven’t read in such a long time. I will pull it out today and rediscover the truths revealed there. You are such an inspiration, dear one.

  3. Isn’t it amazing how you have been prepared for this? How God instilled a love of another servant, CS Lewis, in you? I am in awe of the words that you have found in CS Lewis, words I know bring you comfort, and words which bring those surrounding you comfort as well. God’s love, grace and mercy shine through you Edie. You are truly His!

  4. we felt that way when my husband, son, and I lost our jobs in 2007/2008. It has been a rough road, but out total dependence on God, has so far brought us through. Amazing Grace!

  5. ‘When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8 : 12 Hey Edie! This is one of my verses I am memorizing and thought I would share it with you. God actually let me find on the back of a candle box at the Christian book store, I thought that was neat of Him 🙂 I have you and your family on my prayer list at church and yesterday when I got my bulletin I anxiously turned it over to see your name and got teary eyed just knowing that so many people were praying for you not just at my church but all over… other people, hearts and souls you have touched my friend. I have surprise going out in the mail for you this week that I hope brightens your day 🙂 I hope you have a blessed week friend!!
    ~Molly P

  6. I know you were overwhelmed with comments after the house fire, but “it” is how I came across your blog. My heart immediately broke and I was sucked back to age 10 when my family lost everything in a house fire (

    I have been keeping up with your posts since that fateful morning and I just want to say (which you probably know), but the pieces will be put together again. You will always miss certain things, but you will have a house again that you can call home. You will truly love it and your heart will mend in ways you can not comprehend, even at this moment.

    Despite being so young, I was still very hurt, confused, upset, and sad when we lost our home. As an adult, I now realize how difficult it must have been for my parents. I realize many things….

    Thanks for your honest writing and sharing of this season in your life.

    Amber Cullum

  7. I am so touched by your blog. Words fail me to describe the depth of my feelings when reading the quote today. Since our beautiful 19 year old daughter went to heaven 6 years ago, we’ve been living these words. Thank you for sharing them. Thank you for sharing your life. I can’t imagine the enormity of your loss. I don’t know how you can go on, but on the other hand, I do know how you go on–one moment at a time. All of these things can help us loosen our grasp on the things of this earth and prepare for our real Home. So encouraged to hear the thankfulness in your heart and gratefulness in the midst of this incredible experience. Thank you for your transparency and example. God’s richest blessings on you and your family.

  8. Amazing passage…why is it so many come to God in their darkest hours? Because it is in that darkness, that pit, that we are able to let go of all the “things” that tie us to this world…I’ve been reading Henri Nouwen’s “The Inner Voice of Love.” It is a collection of “spiritual imperatives” as he puts it, from a time in his life where he lost all hope, all faith. Some of his imperatives are so poignant; touching on this very theme of loss and searching for God in the rubble. But he reminds us that God is always there, waiting for us to listen to our inner voice that leads us back to Him. Praying for you and your family…you already know that He is with you!

  9. Edie – I have happened upon your blog by chance…..from Living with Lindsay’s blog…. I feel compelled to write to you. I have been where you are – my family lost our business to a terrible fire. But like you we were “lucky” in that no lives were lost – my dad, brother in law and family friend were all in the building but got out before it exploded. But also like you I know that although all we lost were “things” – there is still an empty void (20 years later) that moving on cannot fill. I will keep you in my prayers and thoughts as you move through your days one minute at a time – day by day week by week month by month…….I wish there were more I could do but your family and friends are lavishing you with your earthly needs – I will work upon the spiritual. God Bless you and your lovely family!

  10. Edie, you are a true inspiration. I’ve been a follower for a while but I don’t think I ever commented. I am praying for you daily and I know He is teaching me a lesson through you. Your faith is unflappable and it’s contagious.
    Keeping you all close to my heart.

  11. “Let me implore the reader to try to believe, if only for a moment, that God, who made these deserving people, may really be right when He thinks that their modest prosperity and the happiness of their children are not enough to make them blessed: that all this must fall from them in the end, and that if they have not learned to know Him they will be wretched.”

    if we do not learn to KNOW him..we will all be wretched.

    thanking God this morning that you and yours KNOW him, deeply, and so, so grateful that HE will pull you through this..making you all the more beautiful.

  12. Beautiful, beautiful words. I do not know you personally, yet through your struggle I have been forced to look at my life and truly see what matters. You are so strong and courageous. I know you have those days, but thank you for continuing to inspire and speak life through this tragedy.

  13. I am only weeks new to your blog and I love it. You are an inspiration to me for many many reasons. Your story is a reminder that it could always be worse what ever I am dealing with. I pray for you during your grieving process knowing you will one day call it all joy!
    I look forward to learning through your blog how one does make it through, if even a moment at a time.

    It is true if He brings us to it, He will bring us through it…

  14. Edie,
    I found your blog through another due to the fire and there are no words to express the pain I feel for your family for what you are going through but I also feel blessed to have found your blog and for the honesty and inspiration you share with us. I having been going through a very difficult time in my life although small in comparison to what you are going through. Your posts have fed me words for deep reflection, some I feel I truly needed to hear yet didn’t even realize. I am grateful. Thank you so much and may God bring you and your family even more greatness than you can imagine.

  15. Beauty. From. Ashes.
    Your tremendous struggle is a work of beauty. This uphill struggle will end in a finished work of art, to your Father’s glory. Keep fighting the good fight.

  16. “The life to themselves and their families stands between them and the recognition of their need; He makes that life less sweet to them.”

    Thank your for this, for continuing to minister to others through your blog even as you walk through this season.

  17. Thank you, Edie! I am humbled and inspired as always. And I will be re-reading that book again soon.

    Just a few years ago, one month after my Mama died at the age of 60, her house burned to the ground. My step-dad, of 30 years, got out with his pants. No shirt, no shoes. I wanted my mother’s Bible. I had looked through it while there for the funeral, but I left it because I knew he would want to look through it. It was full of her own notes. I couldn’t wait to go back and read some more of it. I knew I would feel close to her and get to know her even better through reading her Bible. If only I had brought it with me. I can’t even begin to comprehend your pain, your loss. I am so, so sorry and I am praying.

    You have continued to be used by Him for His glory. Thank you for that, Edie, I know it is hard.

    Your sister,

  18. I have pondered long and hard on the rich young man who could not give up everything he owned to follow Jesus. As I reflect on my life, could I give up everything we have worked so hard to accomplish … the answer should immediately resound with a joyful “Yes, I can and will” – but the awful truth is that I would find it intensely upsetting to loose all and have to start from scratch. Wonderful people loosing homes and belongings to fires and floods don’t have the choice …. hence “there is now nothing better to be had” than faith itself – even if it comes with regret and struggle to understand the why. My prayers are with you all.

  19. A wonderful passage Edie! After reading your post about “stuff”, I am really trying to puruse more “memories” than “things”. We watched our youngest daughter coach her 1st ever volleyball tournament at the age of 17 this weekend, and her team took home the championship! While we took pictures, her elated face as her team scored the final point will be forever etched in my mind. Continuing to pray for you and your family.

  20. This is a lovely passage. Very thought provoking. As for as the image you have posted, my eye is continually drawn to the silver electrical box on the left. The black wires form a heart. It makes for a very powerful image to accompany the very important reminder outlined in the above text.

    Praying for you and your family. x

  21. “their modest prosperity and the happiness of their children are not enough to make them blessed”

    Oh, and…”The life to themselves and their families stands between them and the recognition of their need”

    Girl, these are the very marbles that have been rolling around in my head lately.

    Love you, Sister Friend.

  22. our home caught fire last year ((2009)) right before Christmas. while we were standing out in the cold barefoot my older grown children were comforting our two younger ones..i told them what is important is us right here standing in the cold..the stuff inside while dear to our hearts cn be replaced we cannot.
    you are strong and will make it through with grace…
    while teaching us all about God’s grace.’
    love to all.

  23. Just want you to know that you are such an exquisite blessing in so many lives… it’s amazing and awe-inspiring how you and your story have deepened the faith of so many. My kids and I will continue to pray for “Miss Edie”. : )

  24. I sit here and read these words with awe. It is amazing what God can and will do. I will be rereading this book soon. It’s amazing message has pierced my heart.


  25. The Lord will bring beauty out of the ashes. My husband I lost both our mothers when we were in our twenties within four months of each other. It was shattering to try and cope with that amount of grief together. I learned that the Lord will take away things you love, break you and your heart into a million pieces, and then he carefully puts you back together. Piece by piece, Little by little. He puts you back together to be more like Him. With more understanding, more sympathy, more love, more grace. He brings life out of the ashes, if we let Him. If we trust Him. Every time. And that new life is beautiful.

  26. Edie~I pray for you daily! Your strength & hope in God is a testimony to us all. We should be more faithful & trust as you do knowing it’s all in God’s hand & under HIS control. May God continue to give you peace as you continue to trust.

  27. Edie. I have waited while all the other people who know you so well had their say. I’d only been reading a couple of months. I have cried. It hurts that you – NOT your home – but YOU have been reduced to ashes. I know of ashes. I know of the pheonix that rises from them. I just hate that it happened to you.

    I pray for you, that the waves don’t submerge you, that Our Lord keep your nose above the water.

    That though you are inspiring so many with your faith – that in your moments of doubt – you know that is faith too. Doubt can be faith when taken to God.

    You know all the answers to all the scriptural questions – I pray for God to hold you as you continue to remember in the dark what he taught you in the light.

  28. I must say that God is using you, even through this hard time in your life. God has used your words to convict me and to uplift me at the same time. You are a blessing to me. I am praying for you and your family.

  29. The messages that I hear on your blog leave my heart yearning for more. I The truth and power of His love are like no other. Even as I look at this picture above the very first thing I noticed was the symbol of love within the electrial box…He is amazing!

  30. Dear Edie,
    I am writing from France, Normandy.
    It’s quite a while I read your blog, I was looking for something on the web, spiritual & with a family touch. I found a “lifeingrace” & inspired me every week : with your music, your reads, your recipes (even if it sounds strange too me!) & your faith. I was amazed when I saw that (it was a long time I didn’t come & “see” you!). But you must know something, dear Edie, you are one of my model. Inspiring me in everyday life, with an incredible faith. With all our love from France. We pray for you. Take Care.

  31. Wow. Amazing – I need to read this book again. I love the bit…”it is a poor thing to strike our colors to God when the ship is going down under us…” What an accurate description of what we are prone to do.

  32. This made me tear-eyed: to see you all go through this. I think the loss of our things and homes is especially hard on us womenfolk because our homes are our castles. But thank you for this. It made me teary-eyed because I felt the finger of God touch my heart and remind me that, yes, I get caught up in my life and forget Him so easily, and yet He is there, ready to stoop down to “conquer, He will have (me) even though (I) have shown that I prefer everything else to Him.” It’s easy to get lost in my daily life of home-schooling, blogging, cooking and cleaning, and yet God wants me to look to Him and love Him most. Thank you so much for this reminder and for stirring my heart back to Him.

  33. Hello Edie, This is my first visit to your lovely blog and I am heartsick at the discovery of what just recently happened to you all. Two and a half years ago, the house that we’d been building for two years and designing for at least ten, caught fire right before we were almost ready to move in…the painters had left combustable rags in a bucket, that was all it took. We were so thankful that nobody was hurt and that our personal belongings were spared because we hadn’t moved them in yet, but the house itself…which we had given so much of ourselves to in it’s creation…was gone, well, the shell was semi there, but mostly, it was gone. Also, prior to the fire, we had lost my sister-in-law in a very sudden and tragic way, and were still trying to recover from the loss…so needless to say, when the fire happened, Job was on our mind also…quite a lot.
    I know that the shock, the numbness, the disbelief, the grief and the despair can be overwhelming, especially in the wee hours…there are so many lessons and questions…some which we might never know the answer to, but that’s okay, it has to be.
    This journey will be long…but it’s a solid one…I’m a different person now even though I believe that the person I was before was doing pretty good and that my heart had been in a right place…but God it seems, wanted to take me to a deeper place. I’m still getting to know this new, more solid (stronger) me…but God is with me…speaking, teaching, helping… and I’m hearing Him in a new way…He is here…and He is there with you, and you will be stronger also, it’s a good strong Edie, the key is (without sounding to cliche) to hold onto Him…tightly…and stay there.
    Love and blessings to your hearts, and hugs…big hugs.
    xo Jessica

  34. “He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him.”

    Oh how undeserving I am! I am thankful that He doesn’t stop at just having us, but caring for our every need.

    You bless many, myself included, by trusting God and praising Him in the midst of your trial, Edie.

  35. hi,

    i am new to your blog. it is amazing. i was just reading the you are mine and a girl in my church just released her first cd. she has a song on it called you’re mine. you can download it on itunes – her name is dana marie. the song is absolutely beautiful and when i read your post i was reminded of that song.

    i am a blessed mom of six!!!! not my plan, but God’s!

    thanks for sharing your life!


  36. This is beautifully painful. I needed to read this. Thank you. My favourite quote right now is from Elisabeth Elliot: “Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God’s story doesn’t end with ashes.” Beauty for ashes, beauty for ashes. He is the beauty offered to us in exchange for our ashes.

  37. I KNOW this to be Real & True in my life as well. God Bless you and your family as you rebuild your home and lives and become even more of what He desires you to be in this life.

  38. Edie,
    This is exactly why I’ve read Mere Christianity four times: twice in my 20’s, once in my 30’s, and I’ve already read it this decade, the fabulous 40’s! I’ve read most of Lewis’ works and oh how he speaks to my heart. My parents were killed in an automobile accident when I was seven. It was by the grace of God that we three children and my grandparents were not killed as well. We were taken in by and aunt and uncle (and their three kids) and all of our home, except a few personal things, were auctioned off. We even lost our family pet, a bunny. Fortunately, my parents had given me the foundation of my faith ~ Christ ~ and I never forsook him, and of course He was there all the time, even when it felt like He wasn’t . There is hardly anything in this world more humiliating than being an orphan and being at the mercy of others; I know about this Divine Humility Lewis writes of. Prefer Him and you will get through this terrible time. I’m praying for you and your family. I am so very sorry for your misfortune.

  39. Hi Edie…thinking of you daily. Sending sweet thoughts and little blessings through the Holy Spirit. Your choice of Lewis’ writings couldn’t be more perfect as we just struggled with this “divine humility” at Bible study today. My shallow comments/wonderings about “discipline”…a fallen world….fell flat as I looked into the eyes of my dear friend who became a widow in December {after truly believing for 6 years her husband would be healed to live 40 more years}. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord who lovingly stoops to conquer.

  40. just read this to our family at our kitchen table. Caleb immediately responded:
    “God is the best.”
    Thought you would enjoy that.

    This quote is so true. Raw. Sad. True.
    of it, I am also guilty.

    Oh, how he loves us. Stoops to conquer. Beautiful.

  41. That photo set against the excerpt from Mere Christianity speaks volumes. I need to reread it, as it’s been awhile. Thank you for the timely reminder.

  42. How beautiful, this Divine Humility. I read today in my New King Jame’s Study Bible that faith enables us to draw near to God while love enables us to imitate Him. I have been pondering the unfeigned love of Jesus and in doing so have recognized my pride. How can I not extend what God stoops every moment of every day to give me, one fallen so short of His glory? I appreciate the conviction and encouragement derived from this excerpt.

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