It seems that I have spent much of the summer either presiding at funerals, going to funerals, or visiting folks who might be ready for a funeral. It is never easy but for some reason this summer it has seemed particularly difficult. Perhaps it is the frequency, Perhaps it is the capriciousness of death. The “last enemy” as Paul called it, defeated but still an enemy it is difficult and sometimes leads us to despair.
Somewhere in Luther’s letters you can find the following phrase: “confident despair”. Luther’s writing to a man who’s been very pious. Luther encourages him to despair of himself, and to put confidence in Christ. The true state of a Christian, Luther writes, is that of confident despair. And this is accurate. For we must despair of every attempt from the human side to reach God. At the same time we must receive with all confidence the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Confident despair. Confidence in Him. Despair of ourselves.