Quotes of Note: Martin Luther—Master Pastor, Part 4
Note: You’re reading Part 4 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, Part 2, and Part 3.
Luther sought to help people to face suffering face-to-face with God. He did so by encouraging people to encounter God through the written Word (Scripture), the living Word (Christ), and living epistles (Christians).
The Medicine for Healing the Mind: A Faith Perspective on Suffering
“We must turn our faces to the unseen things of grace and to the hidden things of comfort, hoping and waiting upon these; and our backs to things that are seen, that we may accustom ourselves to leave these and depart from them, as St. Paul says: ‘Who look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen’” (2 Cor. iv. 18) (LSA, p. 160).
“Bear, then, the stroke of the dear Father’s gentle rod in such a way that you may find in his gracious and paternal will towards you a comfort deeper than the pain; and, in the conflict of your grief, let the peace of God, which soars above all our reason and senses, be triumphant, however the flesh may sob and whimper” (LSA, pp. 156-157).
“Heavy is Thy rod God, but I know assuredly that thou art Father still” (LSA, p. 158).
“But it is a much greater comfort, that Christ has formed you in his likeness, to suffer as he suffered, i.e., to be punished and distressed, not alone by the devil, but as though by God, who is and must be your comfort” (LSA, p. 158).
“Therefore, he often withdraws from us the comfort of visible things, in order that the comfort of the Scriptures may find room and opportunity within us, and not remain standing uselessly in the bare letter without exercise” (LSA, p. 158).
“Therefore, when we feel pain, when we suffer, when we die, let us turn to this, firmly believing and certain that it is not we alone, but Christ and the Church who are in pain and are suffering and dying with us” (LW, Vol. 42, p. 163).
“This is the school of Christians. They take lessons daily in this art and cannot comprehend it, much less learn it thoroughly, but they always remain children, spelling the A B C of this art” (LSA, pp. 160-161).
Life said that God had forsaken them; “faith responded that He had not forsaken them as flesh and blood would imagine” (LSC, p. 82).
Relational Healing: The Peace of God and the God of Peace
“It is enough that we have a gracious God” (LSC, p. 69).
Trust in “the inscrutable goodness of the divine will” (LSC, p. 69).
“In the phrase, ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (8:33, 34, 35), he shows that the elect are not saved by chance, but by God’s purpose and will. Indeed for this reason, God allows the elect to encounter so many evil things as are here named, namely, to point out that they are saved not by their merits, but by His election, His unchangeable and firm purpose (of salvation in Christ)” (Commentary on Romans, p. 128).
“One should therefore banish from his mind and heart the grievous thoughts of sin and of the wrath of God, and cherish the very opposite thoughts” (LSA, p. 183).
“I have known many such, who, when very great and sudden temptations such as these have assailed them, did not understand the art of despising and casting out these thoughts, and in consequence lost their minds and became violently insane; and some, when their minds had become too severely strained by these startling thoughts, took their own lives” (LSA, p. 187).
Compassionate Commiseration: Viva Voce—Personal Encounter/Cure by Company
“Perhaps your temptation is too severe to be relieved by a brief letter; it can better be cured, God willing, by a personal encounter with me and my living voice” (LSC, p. 101).
I could not refrain from writing to you and, in so far as God enables me, sending you these lines of comfort since I can well imagine the cross which God has now laid upon you through the death of your beloved son sorely oppresses and hurts you. It is natural and right that you should grieve, especially for one who is of your own flesh and blood. For God has not created us without feeling or to be like stones or sticks, but it is his will that we should mourn and bewail our dead. Otherwise it would appear that we had no love, particularly in the case of members of our own family” (LSC, pp. 72-73).
The Rest of the Story
In Part 5, we’ll learn the heart of Luther’s counsel: turning people to the heart of God.
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.
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