Faith during Difficult Times (5)

Lessons from Deitrich Bonhoeffer


the road to Emmaus
Faith during Difficult Times (5)
Lessons from Deitrich Bonhoeffer.

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As New Zealand drops down to Level 1 again with us all heaving a sigh of relief, I pause and realize it is Lent. Many people are experiencing disappointment right now with the many cancellations that have had to occur once again due to the new Covid cluster. A grim reminder of 2020. Many of us are losing so much already due to the pandemic, that giving up something more for Lent right now is too much. If you can’t bring yourself to practise Lent this year as you normally would, don’t feel bad about that, God understands.

The last lesson from Deitrich Bonhoeffer that I want to share today is:

Walk through Disappointment with God.

Bonhoeffer’s sense of walking with God can be heard in the Hugo Wolf song he quoted in 2 letters, to his parents and to Hans von Dohnanyi, his brother-in-law:

“Over night, over night, come joy and sorrow, and before you know it, both leave you and go to the Lord, to say how you have borne them.”

In relation to his fiancée, Bonhoeffer was encouraged that Maria had:

“learnt very early to recognize a stronger and more gracious hand in what men inflict upon us.”

Bonhoeffer wrote to Maria concerning the German poet Adalbert Stifter’s description of pain as “the holiest angel,” that “there is an even holier angel than pain, and that is joy in God.” He encouraged her to believe that:

“God is forever upsetting our plans, but only in order to fulfil his own, better plans through us.”

To Maria’s mother he wrote:

“We want to receive what God bestows on us with open, outstretched hands and delight in it with all our heart, and with a quiet heart we will sacrifice what God does not yet grant us or takes away from us.”

This view of life’s unfulfilled desires, from the prospective of one who was walking with God, was the foundation of his strength of spirit.

For those of you struggling in isolation, with increasing anxiety and/or depression. Stop and look things over, spend some time in prayer, and stop doing everything the same way and expecting a different outcome. Find a better way! Nehemiah in the Old Testament, stopped and looked things over when he was rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls and realised that to overcome discouragement among his people he needed to start doing things differently . . . . . Don’t give up; try a new attitude and system.