Posts tagged “Suffering

Sermo Dei: Epiphany 4, 2014

Posted on January 29th, 2017

Following Jesus means following Him into the storm. The men with Jesus (Epiphany IV gospel, Matthew 8:23-27) are not unused to ships, wind, and the swelling of waves. But the storm that assails the followers of Jesus surpasses all they have experienced. Following Jesus means following Him into the storm. The Lord Jesus allows the storm. He allows the disciples to despair. He allows them to fear for their lives. Why? All so they might learn to cry out to Him, to seek His help. Why does Jesus allow the storm? Why does the Lord allow the storms that bellow against you? Is God too harsh? No. He treats us with far greater softness than we deserve. Turbulence is a gift. Turmoil makes you…

Stations on the Road to Freedom: Suffering (3rd Lent Midweek 2015)

Posted on March 26th, 2015

We have this Lent been considering the Dietrich Bonhoeffer poem Stations on the Road to Freedom. The first station is Discipline: If you would find freedom, learn above all to discipline your senses and your soul. Be not led hither and thither by your desires and your members. Keep your spirit and your body chaste, wholly subject to you, and obediently seeking the goal that is set before you.  None can learn the secret of freedom, save by discipline. Last week we heard the second station, Action: To do and dare–not what you would, but what is right. Never to hesitate over what is in your power, but boldly to grasp what lies before you. Not in the flight of fancy, but only in the deed there…

Prepare for the storm

Posted on November 19th, 2014

Luther comments on Peter’s sinking into the water because he lost the Word of Christ’s promise. The life of faith is nothing other than clinging to Christ’s Word. This is how it is when Christ comes into your ship. It will not stay calm for long. A storm will come. If you want to be a Christian then you should prepare for this storm and this discord…. Whoever wants to live blessed by God in Christ must suffer persecution, as Saint Paul says. Luther Brevier, p340

Suffering in your station

Posted on February 4th, 2014

Dr. Luther on suffering in our vocations: I ask where our suffering is to be found. I shall soon tell you: Run through all stations of life, from the lowest to the highest, and you will find what you are looking for. We are not to look for a cross, the devil and world will make one for us. Simply live as an earnest Christian, preacher, pastor, burgher, farmer, noble, lord, and fulfill your office faithfully and loyally. Let the devil worry where he can find a piece of wood out of which to make a cross for you, and the world where it can find a branch out of which to make a scourge for your hide. Quoted in Wingren, Luther on Vocation, pp29f

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow of merit

Posted on April 17th, 2012

Identification of suffering with evil has the further result that God must be absolved from all blame. Thus, the theologian of glory adds to the perfidy of false speech by trying to assure us that God, of course, has nothing to do with suffering and evil. God is “good,” the rewarder of all our “good” works, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow of merit. But is this prettified God the God of the Bible? Is it not quite probable that just these attempts to whitewash God are the cause of unbelief? Meanwhile, suffering goes on unabated. If God has nothing to do with suffering, what is he involved with? Whoever does not know God hidden in suffering, Luther asserts in his…

The self that invests in its own works has no recourse but to defend itself to the end

Posted on April 5th, 2012

We invest all our capital in works. There is then a necessary relation between works and the way we regard suffering. We work to avoid suffering – mostly for here but sometimes also for the hereafter. Or, if we don’t work to avoid suffering, we run from it. We might even work to stave off the fear of death, not to say the suffering of hell. We depend upon and glory in our works, and we call these self-serving deeds good. Suffering, we insist, is bad. If it comes upon us we immediately begin to wonder if we have failed somehow in our works. Since theologians of glory shy away from the depths of the cross and its forgiveness, there can be no honesty…

Deflated and destroyed by suffering

Posted on April 3rd, 2012

Through the cross works are dethroned and the Old Adam, who is especially edified by works, is crucified. It is impossible for a person not to be puffed by his good works unless he has first been deflated and destroyed by suffering and evil until he knows that he is worthless and that his works are not his but God’s.  –Luther; quoted in Gerhard O. Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518