The challenges Lewis faced as a boy and as an adult could have easily destroyed his soul (to some extent it almost did) if it were not for God’s sovereign hand that guided his every step. His sovereign foundations (family, education, and friendships) played an essential role not only in his illustrious career as a writer but also in his attempt to find lasting Joy.
C.S. Lewis was born on November 29, 1898, in Belfast, Ireland. His father, Albert, was a rhetorician/poet and was described to be extremely emotional and sentimental. This brought out the emotional and imaginative sides of Lewis that are seen in his works. His mother, Flora, on the other hand, was a cool and collected woman. She was a mathematician and brilliant at languages (Greek, Latin, French, German) and was influential to Lewis’s intellectual development. But more than being a great teacher, she was an affectionate mother whom Lewis described as the bedrock of the family. When she died of cancer on August 23, 1908, Lewis’s world came crashing down. He compared his mother’s sudden death like “the sinking of Atlantis.”
Lewis’s father was also devasted by the tragic loss. Unable to cope with the grief of losing his wife, Albert sent Lewis and Warnie (older brother) to several boarding schools in England (1908-1910, 1911-1914). The experience was unpleasant because of the poor living conditions and the bullying Lewis experienced. It was also during this time that Lewis got exposed to the occult (School Matron) and atheism (William Kirkpatrick). Lewis’s interactions with them influenced his decision to become an atheist.
But God relentlessly pursued this man who wanted to be left alone. His journey back to faith (1924-1931) proved to be orchestrated by God. It was through books written by Evangelicals and his interactions with Christians that Lewis realized that Christianity can be taught and understood in a way that is both analytically astute and biblically accurate. Finally, on September 28, 1931, Lewis considered himself to be a believer and discovered God to be the Joy he had been searching for all his life.