C.S. Lewis on Expectations

I hate you, Mommy!

TO SHELDON VANAUKEN, who had confessed to Lewis that, in his discouragement over the remoteness of God, he had tried to reject Christ: On how it often seems that God is “playing fast and loose” with us but how God is really the adult or the master to the child or the dog.
27 August 1956

At the moment the really important thing seems to be that you were brought to realise the impossibility (strict sense) of rejecting Christ. Of course He must often seem to us to be playing fast and loose with us. The adult must seem to mislead the child, and the Master the dog. They misread the signs. Their ignorance and their wishes twist everything. You are so sure you know what the promise promised! And the danger is that when what He means by ‘win’ appears, you will ignore it because it is not what you thought it would be—as He Himself was rejected because He was not like the Messiah the Jews had in mind. But I am, I fancy, repeating things I said before. I look forward very much to our meeting again. God bless you.
From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III

Here again we find the destructive role of expectations in any relationship. The child, expecting to be coddled, and ignorant about the truth of parental love, responds to correction and restriction with an, “I hate you!” temper tantrum. Does she really hate her mother? Probably not, as she is just as ignorant of hatred as she is about love.

Our expectations of God too often reflect the same error; we hear about the infinitely loving, accepting God, and how he will give us anything we want of we ask for it in Jesus’ name. When—not if—we don’t get what we demanded of God, cynical anger, and even outright hatred, takes over from our idilic concept of him.

Usually our wrath culminates there, leaving us to search in vain for a god we can accept, one who coddles us as we think we deserve. But a few disillusioned seekers take their disappointment beyond hating the god of their imagination, to rejecting even the idea of his existence. And a few of those militantly oppose anyone who expresses belief in God. Their mission in life is to stamp out all belief in God or any other supernatural entity.

But the God of the Bible loves even the hateful, and his Son Jesus died especially for them, as well as for every other sinner. If you’re disappointed with the god you’ve imagined, it was nothing more than an idol, and the true God, the living God, the eternal I Am, still awaits your love.


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