Monday, June 13, 2011

Stephen to Lazarus

Sailing in the Bay of Fundy, sighting a whaleBut was I the first martyr, who
Gave up no more than life, while you,
Already free among the dead,
Your rags stripped off, your fetters shed,
Surrendered what all other men
Irrevocably keep, and when
Your battered ship at anchor lay
Seemingly safe in the dark bay
No ripple stirs, obediently
Put out a second time to sea
Well knowing that your death (in vain
Died once) must all be died again?

C.S. Lewis, “From Poems,The Essential C.S. Lewis (Touchstone, 1996) 422.


  1. As a recent widow, I've been reading "A Grief Observed," by Lewis. It hasn't been easy for me to read. I was thinking I might gain faith, but the more I read, the further away it seems. In  it, Lewis says, "They call Stephen the first martyr. Hadn't Lazarus the rawer deal?" I feel like I have it harder because I am left without the person with whom I expected to share my whole life. But how do I know what death is? It's just conjecture. No one has been scientifically proven dead who then comes back to talk about it. Many say they have had "near death experiences" and talk about the other side. I say, "Those are near death experiences, notify me when you've had an actual death experience." I always felt that knowledge of the details of death were on an "as needed to know" basis. I always said that I didn't yet need to know. But now, I am alone and sad and angry about the suffering before death and I feel like I need to know. But there is no one who could convince me they are experts at it.

  2. I hope you don't mind me responding. I have been a science teacher all of my life but cannot see how science can answer your question about death. I do however "believe" that Jesus died - it's one thing the Romans were good at - and that his followers ran away for fear of the same fate.
    Why then did those same men and women return proclaiming Jesus as alive, and in the following years surrender to death rather than creeping away quietly?
    They believed that Jesus was alive again. They believed that Jesus had overcome death and would enable them to do the same.
    I don't believe I can convince you of anything, nor that I should presume to try. But I do believe that God grieves for your sadness and I pray that my wife does not have to suffer as you have.

    God is near.