But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon . . .
The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed — might grow tired of his vile sport — might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety.
But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless.
But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice.
The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren’t.
God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t.
In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards.
His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.
Excerpt from C.S. Lewis, A Greif Observed (New York: Batnam Books, 1976), 49-50, 61.