Friday, February 08, 2008

The sufferings of the church, and the power of Christ

"Let us be calmly confident in this cause which has to do with God's
word. Christ, whose cause it is, will staunchly defend and uphold it
against the cunning of the vile devil and the tyranny of the wicked
and deceitful world. For those who confess him before this evil and
adulterous generation and must suffer much thereby, Christ in turn
will confess them before his heavenly Father and requite them for
their suffering with the delights of eternity [Matt. 10:32]. God
himself says, I Samuel 2 [:30], "He who honors me, I will honor." Even
if the waves of the sea are strong and huge billows rise up and roar
furiously as though they would drown us, the Lord is still on high and
has begun a kingdom as wide as the world which he now rules and has
decreed that it shall endure. He is greater, yes, almighty, and he
will accomplish it. Amen. There is no other way—if we desire to
possess Christ, to live and to rule with him in eternity, then
suffering must first be endured. Because this is so, why should we
heed the rage and fury of such deadly powers, of whom Psalm 2 [:4]
says God in heaven laughs at them and holds them in derision. If the
eternal and omnipotent emperor whose name is God and who lives to all
eternity mocks and derides them, why should we fear them, or mourn and
weep? Truly, God does not mock them in his own defense. He will always
be the one dwelling in heaven no matter how they rage against him. But
he mocks them to encourage us, so that we may take heart and bravely
laugh at their onslaughts. Therefore the only thing necessary for us
to do is to believe and to pray most confidently in Christ's name that
God will give us strength, since he has erected his kingdom and this
is his doing. It is he who without our help, counsel, thought, or
effort has brought his kingdom forth and has advanced and preserved it
to this day. I have no doubt that he will consummate it without our
advice or assistance. Because "I know in whom I believe," as St. Paul
says [II Tim. 1:12], I am certain that he will grant me more, do far
more abundantly, and help and counsel us beyond all that we ask or
think [Eph. 3:20]. He is called the Lord who can and will help in a
wonderful, glorious, and mighty way, particularly when the need is the
greatest. We are meant to be human beings, not divine. So let us take
comfort in his word and, trusting his promise, call upon him
confidently for deliverance in time of distress and he will help. That
is all there is to it; we have no alternative; otherwise, eternal
unrest would be our reward. May God save us from that for the sake of
his dear Son, our Savior and eternal Priest, Jesus Christ. Amen."

Source: Luther's Works, 43:176.

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