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C. S. Lewis' idea of sehnsucht is that we sense that there is some ineffable object to our desires and that this proves that there is something beyond this world and life (for it makes the enjoyment of those goods pale in comparison). He used this idea, in one instance, as proof of God.

What evidence, whether from the Bible or philosophy or his own experience, did he base this idea on?

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My impression was that Lewis based his idea of joy on his own, personal experience, and that he assumed that other people had the same (or at least similar) experience. – Andreas Blass Jan 10 '14 at 15:37
This question is too similar to the one we've been working on together. I think you should just add in the CS Lewis quote to that one. :) – curiousdannii Jan 15 '14 at 22:42
Does the song Turn your eyes upon Jesus be taken as a case of what you are speaking of? – One Face Mar 4 at 13:14

1 Answer 1

At least a couple pericopae come to my mind, if not to Clive Staples Lewis.

  1. In the context of Paul's contrast between the finite and prideful wisdom of man versus the infinite and hidden-from-the-wise wisdom of God, Paul said,

". . . but we speak . . . the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written,







 FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM'" (1 Corinthians 2:6-9, excerpts, NASB Updated) 

Most Christians, I suspect, realize that life is a mixed bag. It has its highs and lows and lots of in-betweens. The joys of earth are mingled with sadness, trials, suffering, temptation, persecution and more. As Christians get closer to the end of their lives here on earth, they are perhaps more likely to admit that the things of earth, including happiness and pleasure, begin to pale in comparison to godly joy and true pleasure, which as the psalmist reminds us, begin now and continue forever.

"Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (16:11 NKJV).

Also consider the refrain from Helen H. Lemmel's hymn "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus":

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace" (refrain from "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus," by Helen H. Lemmel)

The pleasures of sin are but for a season, the writer to the Hebrews reminds us (11:25), and those pleasures, though genuinely pleasurable, eventually become alloyed with unexpected consequences, in part because of the spiritual law of reaping and sowing (Galatians 6:7 ff.)

  1. One of the descriptions of heaven in the Revelation of Jesus Christ:

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. . . . and [God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away" 21:1-4, excerpts, NASB Updated).

Knowing that some radical changes are coming, all of which are both good and unalloyed, causes some Christians' hearts to rejoice in hope (see Romans 5:2 KJV).

  1. Even what I call spiritual "mountain-top experiences" fade, sometimes quickly and sometimes more slowly, but they do fade when we leave the mountaintop (as Peter, James, and John did after Jesus' transfiguration--see John 17:1 ff.) and once again face the challenges which come our way, sometimes successfully and sometimes no so successfully (see John 17:9, 17-23).

And last,

  1. The Christian's hope-filled expectation of being rewarded by our Lord God for his or her God-glorifying good deeds. Jesus promised that the treasures we lay up in heaven are subject neither to devaluation and depreciation, nor can they be stolen. As the saying goes, "God is no man's debtor." One day, faithful Christians will be rewarded handsomely for their obedience to God and for their God-glorifying labors:

"[B]ut let us not lose heart in doing good; for in due time, if we do not faint, we shall reap" (Galatians 6:9 DBY).

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