After Luther died the Emperor and the others warred against the Lutherans, besieged their territory and eventually came into Wittenberg, the center of the Reformation. Luther’s Pastor and friend John Bugenhagen stayed in the city but sent his family away, not knowing what was going to happen. Bugenhagen wrote about the days before the invasion came and the prayers he prayed and all of them assign the problems and the issues and the tragedies to God’s wrath. He stresses over and over again that he and country were being punished so that God could show mercy and bring good things from bad. How different from today when we desperately attempt to do away with God’s wrath. Here is a portion of Bugenhagen’s prayer.
“My wife and children are lost; I have lost control of my house and property; my body and life are in mortal danger; this poor city and church are in danger; our school has been torn apart; my dear brothers and friends in this land have been killed by fire, robbery, and murder; our dear Prince and Lord has been captured and has lost his land and its people, etc. ‘The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away,’ as Job said (Job 1:21) – (dear Father, let me add:) ‘the Lord might restore it all.’ Let me live, that when your wrath has passed, I may hear and see your goodness on earth, for then this city and church would be at peace again, that the University, the churches, and the schools would be rebuilt, along with these lands that have been destroyed, so that our children and descendants may remain faithful to the dear Gospel of Christ, and that the message of our salvation, the loving-kindness of Christ, may be spread throughout the world more and more. Then I will sing the ‘Lord, now you let your servant depart in peace.’ And then, in your grace take me away from this vale of sorrows. And if you desire that I should continue to live, then you will surely also give me ‘our daily bread’; if there is to be no room for me in the inn in Bethlehem, then you will give me room enough in the stable and in the manger, to my joy and delight, for you even give to the animals their food, etc. Oh, dear Father, since you have brought us with your punishment to the point where our all confidence has faltered, where we freely confess that all those things on which we human beings relied served for our destruction; since we know of no creature in heaven or on earth that might grant us comfort or aid, and since our distress came before your door alone, just as you demand from us in your First Commandment, see to it that you graciously take care of your household and of us along with it, and that you grant us your shelter and protection. Give us your Holy Spirit, so that we may become devout in Christ and so that we may live with thankfulness. Grant in this way that all our affairs in both spiritual and secular kingdoms may become better than they were before, so that your sworn enemy, the devil, and his sects are unable to pride themselves on having achieved some great thing against you. Amen.”