“Sunny day theology” is important. Thinking deeply about the important issues of life, even things like death and suffering, is important in general, but more so in the times when, quite honestly, you’re not facing many of those problems head-on. I don’t think reading the book of Job really is that helpful when you’re riding in the funeral limousine or sitting in one of those uncomfortable waiting room chairs in the hospital. What you believe about the goodness and wisdom of God, the reality of evil and suffering, and the response of human beings to events largely outside their immediate control can’t be figured out in the rainy times. One’s choices and beliefs during those dark seasons will largely be a reflection of choices/beliefs shaped during the happy times. What I call “sunny day theology.”
CS Lewis’ book A Grief Observed stands as a great example of this. This is perhaps one of the most heart-breaking and emotional pieces of anything I have ever read of Lewis. In the wake of his wife’s death, Lewis simply chronicles the reactions and thoughts of his own heart. Those who find themselves in or near such a rainy season will probably discover a strong emotional reaction to portions of the book. Those in the sunny times may honestly not fare much better.
But for those who have read much of Lewis, we see that even in what at times is a tumultuous relationship between himself and God, Lewis’ “sunny day theology” sneaks through. Major themes of his core beliefs– joy in God himself (not just the gifts), praise as both culmination and act of enjoyment, etc.–show up at key points to help Lewis along in his journey of grief. It’s not as if his grief and pain caused him to abandon his sunny day theology, but rather they caused him to ask new questions which found many of the same answers he had known before.
New questions for old answers. I like that. But you don’t that without having some old answers…aka “Sunny Day Theology.”