Well. This season of Lent has been quite a bit different than any that most of us have experienced. The most recent situation that begins to parallel the messiness seems to be the “home front” during WWII. Rationing was more severe; I understand that polio and measles were the epidemics of the time, and these only added to the family’s uncertainty during the horrendous overseas fighting. When walking down the block in cities it was common to see houses under quarantine. Only a few have clear and detailed memories of those days, and those memories are pretty distant, and will continue to fade.
It remains so important even today for us to hold on to the promises of Christ for His people. Matthew 28:18-20 comes immediately to mind:
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go [c]therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Yes, ALL authority is His, even to the end of the age. And YES! He is with you. Now.
So Luther was trusting in God’s presence and providence when the Black Plague struck Wittenberg on August 2, 1527. Though the university was moved to Jena, he remained to minister to the ill. In a letter to Rev. Dr. Johann Hess in Breslau, he wrote:
“I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as result of my negligence. If God wish to take me, He will surely find me and I have done what He has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person, but will go freely, as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”*
An article on-line highlights a series of hymns that were written by the eminent 17th Century Lutheran theologian and composer Paul Gerhardt. No stranger to suffering in this world, he endured plague and pestilence, and lost his wife and four of his five children. If you have access to the internet, you can read the article here, or you can go here to listen to the ten hymns that are recommend during troubled times.
At the end of the day, dear sinners and saints redeemed by Christ, take comfort. We are in the arms of our heavenly Father.
- Pr. Meyer
*Luther’s Works, American Edition Vol. 43, pg 132