I was meeting with several people this week and for whatever reason, maybe it’s the Fall season and the melancholia that comes with it that get us all in the mood but all the discussions turned to loss. Loss of loved ones and friends and acquaintances and the life changes that take place very quickly as we get older. One Pastor friend of mine said that these losses are something that we have to process through our callings even as we seek to be comforters ourselves. Martin Luther was no stranger to grief and he has some interesting things to say about it.. It is very practical stuff. This is from a letter that he wrote to a man named Bartholomew von Staremberg, in 1524. He had lost his wife and Luther writes……..
Let me remind you of what Job says: ‘The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; as it seemed good to the Lord, so hath he done.’ You should sing the same song to a dear and faithful God who gave you a dear and faithful wife and has now taken her away. She was his before he gave her; she was his after he had given her; and she is still his . . . now that he has taken her away. Although it hurts us when he takes his own from us, his good will should be a greater comfort to us than all his gifts, for God is immeasurably better than all his gifts. . . . Although we cannot perceive God’s will as well as we can perceive a wife, we can apprehend his will by faith. Accordingly you should cheerfully give God what is his and accept this just exchange . . . whereby instead of a dear, tender wife you have a dear, tender will of God—and, what is more, God himself. How blessed and rich we would be if we could engage in such an exchange with God! We could do so, in fact, if we knew how to, for God confronts us with the opportunity daily, but we cannot ask him.