Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Some things about Luther's letters of encouragement and consolation.

Brecht, Shaping and Refining the Reformation, p. 378.

Luther was also interested in how things were going with those who were close to him. He exhorted Catherine Jonas to have courage in her approaching childbirth. Then he congratulated the father at the birth of his son. Shortly afterward he had to ask Melanchthon to inform Jonas that his son had died. For Luther, this personal grief accompanied political Anfechtung as the fate of a Christian in this world, but it did not shake one's hope. A few days later he himself wrote tenderly in this vein to Jonas, although, because of his illness, he considered himself an inept comforter. The child's death did not mean that he had been forsaken by God; it was a special way of God's "visitation." Soon afterward, Luther had to comfort Link on the death of a daughter. Luther never minimized the severity of the loss in his letters of comfort. He also did not gloss over the fact that such bitter experiences are part of our fate in this earthly vale of tears; however, they are surrounded by God's mercy and the hope of faith. This was true for the letters of consolation written during the next two years. In 1532 the wife of Master Ambrosius Berndt died in childbirth, along with her newborn son. Luther well understood the grief of her husband, but it could not be endless. He therefore wrote to Berndt. His wife had died with a sure faith while carrying out her God-given calling of bearing children, and there were also reasons to give thanks to God for her gifts. Occasionally he had to write to the parents of students who died. In those instances, an important comfort was for him to mention that the person had died strong in faith.

How often has Luther stood by us with a word, also, even though we only have his writings now.


Steve Martin said...

"How often has Luther stood by us with a word, also, even though we only have his writings now."

Never thought about it that way. But you are right!

Thank you, Gitte!

Brigitte said...

He is always my best pastor and only a bookshelf away. :)