Letter 5 Screwtape begins by admonishing his underling for getting too excited about the recent spiritual shudders seen in his assigned human, the young man. It seems World War 2 is brewing in Europe and citizens - including Wormwood's "patient" - are on edge, scared, thinking more than usual about their own life and death in this uncertain time. The unknowns are excruciating. Of course, the demons love it when we are freaked out about such things, as we are never more vulnerable to their work as when we are in fear. And can't we relate to this scenario in current times? While we may not officially be in any 'world war' currently, there are more "rumors of war" (see Matthew 24:6 below) right now than we can count. There are active political and military-type 'conflicts' all over the world, there's persecution and murder of Christians and other religious groups across the globe, terrorism, school shootings....no need to go on. Let's just say we can all, I think, relate to feeling like we're currently living in 'war-torn' times, and it can get pretty scary if we let it.
But, wait a second...... As Screwtape points out to Wormwood.... When humans are 'scared to death', they (we) simultaneously (and, perhaps, in spite of ourselves) get very 'real'. We get existentially serious. Priorities become strikingly clear and we find strength we didn't know we had. We never call on the Lord more than when we're scared, when we think we could die, or when we could lose it all. Cool irony.
Matthew 24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+24%3A6&version=NIV
Yowza. Letter 6 is the perfect example of my recent comments about how 'deep' these Letters are and how I end up wondering if I'm 'smart enough' to even understand it all (a distraction tactic of the enemy, I might reiterate, and I will not quit). Ok, so let's see what I can come up with here -- and please jump in with your insights on this Letter!
Screwtape is certainly making the case for the spiritual 'bang for your buck' that anxiety provides from the demonic perspective. He says "There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human's mind against the Enemy (God)". Ain't that the truth?
I thought it was profound when Lewis pointed out that God wants us to be concerned with what we "do", which I interpret to mean the real, tangible problems in life, those things we can do something about. While the Enemy wants us to remain in a 'tizzy', all tangled up in the 'what ifs', essentially being no earthly good to anybody. How much time have I wasted praying about stuff that never even happened?!
Screwtape talks about patience as the antidote for anxiety. We should be (patiently) asking God for daily bread for daily tribulations (our's and others') - the operative word here being daily - not what might befall us tomorrow, next week, next year. The real, the tangible, the right-now.
There is also a reminder in this Letter of an insight first captured in Letter 4 -- that our prayers are weakened when we lose sight of who God is because we get too wrapped up in what we feel.
Shew!! Letter 6 was a doozy! Did I miss something?
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