Martin Luther on suffering

By Dave Henning / January 6, 2014

Timothy Keller discusses Martin Luther’s view of suffering in Chapter 2 (“The Victory of Christianity”) of Walking with God through Pain and Suffering.  Pastor Keller states that for Luther, suffering played a dual role.  Suffering must first empty us of our pride, leading us to find our true joy and sole security in Jesus.  This joy and love, in turn, enables us to face and overcome suffering, as Luther once explained:

“It is God’s nature to make something out of nothing; hence one who is not yet nothing, out of him God cannot make anything, . . . therefore God accepts only the forsaken, cures only the sick, gives sight only to the blind, restores life only to the dead, sanctifies only the sinners, gives wisdom only to the unwise.  In short, He has mercy only on those who are wretched.”

Yet Pastor Keller emphasizes that suffering does not automatically produce growth.  We must first understand Christ’s suffering and work on our behalf.  We cannot be “imitators of Christ”, exhibiting His love and patience under pressure, until we fully embrace Christ’s suffering for us.  Patience will not earn us peace with Christ.  Rather, we need Christ’s peace in order to be patient.

Today’s question: How does Luther’s view of suffering help you develop a fresh perspective on your ministry downsizing or vocation loss?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Residual Christianity”

New addition to Crown Jewels: “Do not easily leave”

About the author

Dave Henning

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