Not a Small God, But a Great God Who Hides Himself

Feast of Herod - Lucas Cranach the Elder
In the writing for the observance of The Martrydom of St. John the Baptist in Treasury of Daily Prayer, Martin Luther once again speaks of God "hiding" Himself in the midst of Christian suffering.  I find these words a great encouragement to hold on in faith especially in the toughest days knowing that the greatness of God's glory will one day be revealed for all.  For now we live in the shadow of the cross, where God's glory is hidden and His strength is seen as weakness, but we believe that word of the cross, of Christ crucified, is the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:18 ff.).  As children of God, "we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him" (Romans 6:16).  

May the Lord grant us each greater patience and faith as we await the day for this to all be revealed, trusting that Christ is indeed in control of all things and working them for the good of His people. 

"Christ is risen from the dead, has ascended to heaven, and sits at the right hand of God in divine power and honor.  Nevertheless, He is hiding His greatness, glory, majesty, and power.  He allows His prophets and apostles to be expelled and murdered... He allows His Christians to suffer want, trouble, and misfortune in the world.  He acts as He did in the days of His flesh, when John the Baptist had to lose his head for the sake of a desperate harlot, while He, the Savior and Helper, said nothing about it, departed thence in a ship and withdrew to the solitude of the wilderness (Matt, 14:a0 ff., Mark 6:17, 32).  Is He not a petty, childish God, who does not save Himself and allows His children to suffer as if He did not see how badly they were faring?... [I]f He sees and knows but cannot help, then He has no hands that are able to do anything, nor does He have power to enable Him to save.

"Hence the prophet Isaiah correctly says of God: 'Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel, Savior' (45:15)... Now He lets our adversaries treat His Word, Sacraments, and Christians as they please.  He lets us call and cry and says nothing, as though He were deep in thought or were busy or were out in the field or asleep and heard nothing as Elijah says of Baal (1 Kings 18:27)...

"Meanwhile Christians, baptized in His name, must hold still, must permit people to walk over them and must have patience.  For in the kingdom of faith God wants to be small, but in the (future) kingdom of sight He will not be small but great.  Then He will show that He saw the misery of His people and heard their crying and had a will inclined to help them, also power to help them... For this appearance of the glory of the great God we must wait."

Writing from Martin Luther, pp. 281ff. in Ewald Plass, comp., What Luther Says, copyright (c) 1959, 1987 Concordia Publishing House


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