Aslan and the Path of Faithful Pain

Aslan and the Path of Faithful Pain

Written by John Stonestreet and Timothy D. Padgett |
Saturday, November 5, 2022

In and of itself, pain is not good, but it is meaningful. Pain indicates that something is wrong and needs to be addressed. Without pain, we’d never know. In the same way, breaking bad habits of the past requires pushing beyond our comfort levels, through the pain, and onward on the path to full restoration. 

One of the most beloved and quotable scenes in The Chronicles of Narnia is from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, when the children learn that Aslan is a lion, “the Lion, the great Lion.”  

“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” 

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver…. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” 

Though we love the idea that God is not “safe,” we often live as if our safety or comfort marks the boundaries of our relationship with Him. Catechized by bad theology, captivated by our culture’s enablement of self-centeredness, or weary of an angry and fractious age, many Christians cannot conceive that God’s will for our lives could involve anything unpleasant or uncomfortable.  

When it does and our expectations collapse, we wonder if God cares, having conflated God’s faithfulness with a painless, placid life of blessing and provision. We are quick to assume that pain or discomfort means that God’s will has been thwarted, or that His love and protection have been withdrawn. It’s difficult to accept that, rather than a sign of God’s absence, the presence of pain could be a sign of His sovereign care. 

Throughout The Horse and His Boy, Aslan continually allows fear, hardship, and even physical pain for the main characters. When Shasta, one of the two main humans in the story, is fleeing from his abusive adoptive father on the Narnian horse Bree, a lion chases them through the darkness. Fleeing from the danger, he encounters another rider fleeing from, it seems, another lion. Aravis is also escaping her home on a talking Narnian horse. Their shared fear and confusion bring them together for a journey neither of them could have made without the other. 

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