Trinity Lutheran Church

“We Preach Christ Crucified.” 1Corinthians 1:23

Rev. John C. Preus, Pastor
Divine Service/Matins 9:00
Bible Class & Sunday School 10:30

March 2014

 1 Peter 2:19-25 

For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 

“Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 

who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but commit-ted Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls

Jesu, deine tiefen Wunden — The following hymn was written in about 1544 by John Herman and has been sung for centuries to the tune by John Koenig, Der am Kreuz, in 1738 

 JESUS, GRANT THAT BALM AND HEALING 

In Your holy wounds I find, 

Every hour that I am feeling 

Pains of body and of mind. 

Should some evil thought within 

Tempt my treacherous heart to sin, 

Show the peril, and from sinning 

Keep me ere its first beginning. 

2 Should some lust or sharp temptation 

Fascinate my sinful mind, 

Draw me to Your cross and passion, 

And new courage I shall find. 

Or should Satan press me hard, 

Let me then be on my guard, 

Saying, “Christ for me was wounded,” 

That the Tempter flee confounded. 

3 If the world my heart entices 

On the broad and easy road 

With seductive, sinful vices, 

Let me weigh the awful load 

You were willing to endure. 

Help me flee all thoughts impure 

And to master each temptation, 

Calm in prayer and meditation. 

4 Every wound that pains or grieves me, 

By Your wounds, Lord is made whole; 

When I'm faint, Your cross revives me, 

Granting new life to my soul. 

Yes, Your comfort renders sweet 

Every bitter cup I meet; 

For Your all-atoning passion 

Has procured my soul's salvation. 

5 O my God, my rock and tower, 

Grant that in Your death I trust, 

Knowing death has lost its power 

Since You crushed it in the dust. 

Savior, let Your agony 

Ever help and comfort me; 

When I die, be my protection, 

Light and life and resurrection. 

Amen. 

 WHAT IS WORSE? TO SUFFER PHYSICALLY OR TO SUFFER EMOTIONALLY?
It’s something you might have considered before. In physical pain, one imagines that nothing is worse. But then in emotional pain, when one is depressed, he learns that even physical pain is preferable. Often people suffering from deep depression are even known to inflict physical injury upon themselves as a desperate form of release. As Johnny Cash sang late in life as a cover of a very dark song: “I hurt myself today / Just to see if I still feel.” 

But have you ever noticed that physical pain is often tempered by the assurance that no real harm is being done? An IV hurts. But you know what the nurse is doing will help. The stinging ointment smarts. But the fact that it is doing good and not bad makes it not just bearable, but even welcome. But physical pain is not always so useful – or so we think. It appears pointless. We see nothing come of cancer or weak bones. And indeed we see that the body is actually being damaged by such maladies. The fact that old age tends toward death itself makes all the minor ailments that add up all the more difficult to manage. 

The wages of sin is death. The physical pain that we feel in these sinful bodies of ours should remind us of the spiritual malady that is the source of all pain. There is nothing worse than a bad conscience. Nothing should hurt us more than the guilt of our sin. God’s law teaches this: that to be separated from God, the source of all gladness, is worse that to be separated from fleeting earthly pleasures. Experience confirms it. But our hearts have a way of forgetting it – just like the one who complains about -10˚ and windy often forgets about the sweltering alternative of 100˚ and muggy. But unlike the discomfort that the seasons bring, with physical pain and spiritual pain, the one is caused by the other. And we are to blame. 

God gives us crosses to bear, however, not to punish us or to make us feel abandoned. It’s the opposite. Yes, it reminds us of the cursed world that we live in. And it often reveals exactly how we bear direct responsibility. Pain brings sin to mind – or at least it should. But through the precious wounds of Christ, we see where bitter pain and sorrow lifted the curse, where the crushing defeat of death brought healing and new life to us poor sinners. It hurt Him. It killed Him. But it ended well, because it brought an end to our death, to our sadness, and to our pain. Yes, our pain. And it even makes sense of our pain, because when we bear what we suffer with patience in the gospel, through it, God forms us in the image of His Son whose suffering accomplished more than we can see. But we know it by faith in the promise of the risen and glorified Jesus. Through the forgiveness of our sins preached and offered in the Sacrament, our Lord shows us His imprinted hands and side that suffered once for sinners to give us joy and pleasure forever with Him. 

The crosses we bear – physical, emotional, spiritual – are placed on us to drive us to repentance – true repentance – godly repentance – the repentance that finds its comfort and plea in the forgiveness of our sins. Our crosses join us to Christ by driving us to where He bore our pain for us. Our pain shall all end well as long as we suffer with a good conscience before God. We suffer for doing good. We suffer for confessing Christ before men. We suffer the curse of a fallen world even though we know that we are not cursed with it. We suffer death even though we know that Christ has taken death and crushed its power for us by rising from the dead. We suffer, and we bless God in the midst of our pain, because for Jesus’ sake we know that God judges righteously. He judges us as His own dear children made holy in His sight through the blood of His Son. 
This balm of the gospel is not painful. It does not sting. It makes all our crosses bearable. He who promises is true. No deceit is found in His mouth. He is the Good Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. And He will see to it that those who trust in Him shall never be confounded, but comforted in every affliction – now and forever. Amen.