11 September 2012

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Let us take careful note of that, so that we too learn to trust God's goodness implicitly, never letting our hearts waver, but patiently expect what we pray for, be it health when we are sick, food when we are poor, righteousness when we are unrighteous and full of sin, or life instead of death, because God dearly loves to give everything, except that he sometimes makes us wait, to see if we continue believing and praying.—Dr. Martin Luther, House Postils II:424 (Trinity 14)


Unknown said...

“…except that he sometimes makes us wait, to see if we continue believing and praying.”

More than 50 years ago, friends of our family had a baby girl. Soon after she was born it became clear that she had a severe case of Cerebral Palsy. She was spastic, could not sit by herself, could not stand or walk, and could not speak. Today she is in her fifties, confined to a bed in a hospital that specializes in treating patients like her. Thanks to the unflagging efforts of her parents, particularly her mother, she has survived to this day, having endured numerous operations and procedures, being the subject of a medical malpractice suit, which her parents won on her behalf, and surviving many infections and illnesses. She is fed through a tube. She has normal intelligence and understands everything that is happening to her. Lately she has developed a new problem which causes her severe pain.

During all of these years I prayed for her – for the past 20 years almost every day. I never dared to ask the Lord to take her to Himself, but I have begged him to relieve her suffering. As of today, she is suffering more pain than ever. I can understand if God did not care to grant my wish. But hundreds of faithful Christians have prayed for her, and not one was found worthy to have their prayer answered. Does God let her suffer to see if I will continue believing and praying?

I suspect that there is something very wrong with the way we look at suffering and God’s role in it. I think that when Scripture speaks about God “chastening whom He loves,” it speaks more about us suffering the direct consequences of our sins, rather than God suddenly giving us pancreatic cancer to see if “we will continue believing and praying.” After all, He is the One Who gave us faith as a gift; He knows whose name is written in the Book of Life; He knows whether we will continue “believing and praying” before we ever begin to endure suffering.

Should we review such passages as John 14:13, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it,” to see if they were intended to apply to the Apostles only and not to every believer?

Is there a better answer today than the one God gave to Job?

Sorry, I should probably just nod piously in self-effacing agreement.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

William Weedon said...

Dear George,

No, it is a most serious question and your honesty is appreciated. I've often wondered myself if the promises in the Farewell discourse were specifically to the Apostles. This above all when it came to the Spirit's bringing to their remembrance what Jesus had said. That obviously applied to them in a way that it doesn't to us.

But since the Apostles themselves urge us to pray and the Lord's promises in other places are pretty universal regarding prayer, I think that also there the promises regarding prayer have a wider application. And I wonder if sometimes the answer to the prayer simply reaches out into eternity in a way that we cannot fathom. I think it helpful to always hold as a corrective in our prayers the words that the Lord's Apostle taught us: "If we ask anything according to His will, we know that He hears us..."


Unknown said...

Thank you Rev. Weedon. Hence, one of my favorite hymns, 752 LBW. With the melody from Finlandia by Sibelius, it is also a reminder to me of the part of the world where I was born, and the path that has brought me here by “His good grace and favor.”

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and bless├Ęd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.
Et tecum, George