Note: You’re reading Part 3 of a blog mini-series sharing Quotes of Note derived from my Ph.D. dissertation: Spiritual Care in Historical Perspective: Martin Luther as a Case Study in Christian Sustaining, Healing, Reconciling, and Guiding. Read Part 1 and Part 2.
In Parts 1 and 2, we enjoyed quotes regarding Luther’s ministry of biblical sustaining: bringing people God’s comfort by empathizing with their suffering. In Parts 3, 4, and 5, we learn from Luther’s ministry of biblical healing: bringing people encouragement and helping them to find Christ’s healing hope.
To promote spiritual maturity, Luther pointed people away from relief and to God. Luther was less concerned with “solutions” and more concerned with “soul-u-tions”—Christ-dependence.
The Spiritual Significance of Suffering: God Shouts to Us in Our Pain—Delicious Despair
“By these vicissitudes He teaches us not to be arrogant, as we might be if we were always strong. We are best off when we ourselves acknowledge that we are framed of dust and are mere dust” (LSC, p. 41).
“I believe that this trial comes to you, as it does to other brethren who occupy high stations, in order that we may be humbled” (LSC, p. 41).
“Therefore, we should willingly endure the hand of God in this and in all suffering. Do not be worried; indeed such a trial is the very best sign revealing God’s grace and love for man” (LW, Vol. 42, p. 184).
God sends pain and suffering because He “wishes to break your will. He is apt to lay His hand upon us just where it will give us the most pain, in order to slay our old Adam” (LSA, p. 172).
“Whether man believes it or not, it is most certain and true that no torture can compare with the worst of all evils, namely, the evil within man himself. The evils of sin within him are more numerous and far greater than any which he feels. If a man were to feel his evil, he would feel hell, for he has hell within himself” (LW, Vol. 42, p. 125).
Suffering: God’s Healing Medicine against the Disease of Self-Trust
“This is the school in which God chastens us and teaches us to trust in Him so that our faith may not always stay in our ears and hover on our lips but may have its true dwelling place in the depths of our hearts” (LSC, p. 56).
“The most dangerous trial of all is when there is no trial, when everything is all right and running smoothly. That is when a man tends to forget God, to become too independent and put his time of prosperity to a wrong use. In fact, at this time he has more need to call upon God’s name than in adversity” (LW, Vol. 44, p. 47).
“Inasmuch as tribulation serves the same purpose as rhubarb, myrrh, aloes, or an antidote against all the worms, poison, decay, and dung of this body of death, it ought not to be despised. We must not willingly seek or select afflictions, but we must accept those which God sees fit to visit upon us, for he knows which are suitable and salutary for us and how many and how heavy they should be” (LSC, p. 165).
Reinterpreting Suffering: Viewing Life with a Scriptural Lens
“The Holy Spirit knows that a thing has only such value and meaning to a man as he assigns to it in his thoughts” (LW, Vol. 42, p. 124).
“By the help of God I have learned how to heal those under temptation and by experience I have learned how one should act when afflicted with sadness, despair or other heart sorrow, or has a worm gnawing in his conscience. Let us first lay hold of the comfort of the divine Word and then seek the conversation of pious Christian people and we will soon be better” (LSA, p. 175-176).
“Human reason cannot be content until it has looked about for human help” (LSA, p. 176).
“Therefore, whenever anyone is assailed by temptation of any sort whatever, the very best that he can do in the case is either to read something in the Holy Scriptures, or think about the Word of God, and apply it to his heart. The Word of God heals and restores again to health the mind and heart of man when wounded by the arrows of the devil” (LSA, p. 178).
“Christ heals people by means of his precious Word, as he also declares in the 50th chapter of Isaiah (verse 4): ‘The Lord hath given me a learned tongue, that I should know how to speak a word in season to the weary.’ St. Paul also teaches likewise, in Romans xv 14, that we should obtain and strengthen hope from the comfort of the Holy Scriptures, which the devil endeavors to tear out of people’s hearts in times of temptations. Accordingly, as there is no better nor more powerful remedy in temptations than to diligently read and heed the Word of God” (LSA, p. 179).
Without the Word, a Christian is like a soldier, “entering upon conflict naked and unprotected” (LSA, p. 180). With the Word, the Christian could defeat even the “most practiced and experienced warrior” (LSA, p. 180).
The Rest of the Story
In Part 4, we’ll learn from Luther how to gain a faith perspective on our suffering.
Join the Conversation
Which of today’s Quotes of Note impact your life and ministry the most?
Note: These quotes are derived from Spiritual Care in Historical Perspective: Martin Luther as a Case Study in Christian Sustaining, Healing, Reconciling, and Guiding. The entire 212-page dissertation is available in PDF form at the RPM Store.