C. S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters is a correspondence between Uncle Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood, two demons setting about the deceit of their ‘patients’ – you and me – who they DO NOT want to be in the secure grip of their Enemy – Christ.
Last night I read something that is worth broadcasting:
Screwtape wrote to young Wormwood about you and me, his “patients”…
Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation – the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life – his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty. The dryness and dullness through which your patient is now going are not, as fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merly a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it.
Screwtape writes on:
To decide what the best use of it [this life of peaks and valleys] is, you must ask what use the Enemy [God the Father] wants to make of it, and then do the opposite. Now it may suprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He [God the Father] relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else… It is during the trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that the patient is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best.
But of course the troughs afford opportunities on our side also. Next week I will give you some hints on how to exploit them, Your affectionate uncle Screwtape
What an acknowledgement of the GOSPEL becoming LIFE for us when we are in the troughs of weakness. What a warning on the necessity that we look to God alone in our times of trial – the “troughs of life” afford immense opportunity for the enemy as well.