Luther had a friend named John Reineck whose wife died and Luther wrote this……
How should we conduct ourselves in such a situation? God has so ordered and limited our life here that we may learn and exercise the knowledge of his very good will so that we may test and discover whether we love and esteem his will more than ourselves and everything that he had given us to have and love on earth. And although the inscrutable goodness of the divine will is hidden (as is God himself) from the old Adam as something so great and profound that man finds no pleasure in it, but only grief and lamentation, we nevertheless have his holy and sure Word which reveals to us this hidden will of his and gladdens the heart of the believer.1
Another author says that what is interesting here is that Luther doesn’t ask the question, “what should we believe?”, but how should we act when we grieve?
There is that implicit acknowledgement that those suffering acute loss are tempted to change how they behave in their grief. There is an acknowledgement that we feel that God is against us in such a situation: he speaks of ‘the inscrutable goodness of the divine will [being] hidden (as is God himself)’. Naturally, there is no pleasure in it, ‘only grief and lamentation’. A little later he says that ‘the old Adam is reluctant and unwilling to act like Job’—and Luther evidently has in mind Job’s patience.
But, again, we find that Luther’s encouragement to the bereaved Reineck is to set his mind and heart on that which he has retained, rather than on that which he has lost. He encourages him to rest in the ‘holy and sure Word’ of God, hoping that this will gladden his heart, that he might ‘find more pleasure in God’s grace and Fatherly will than you will have pain from your loss’. Luther knows, from experience, that it is often in the Word that we find God’s fatherly grace—not in the circumstances of suffering.2
1. To John Reineck, April 18, 1536: Letters, 69-70 (WA Br 7.399-400).
2. Micheal Parsons “Luther’s Insights into Grief: His Pastoral Letters”.