Spiritual anguish

grief-927099_640Contrary to the “prosperity gospel” and other theologies of glory, negative experiences can also have a positive spiritual significance.  Many of us go through depression, blue moods, black moods, and other sufferings, whether physical or emotional.  These are not signs that you have lost your faith or that God has abandoned you.

Luther, who knew these states of mind well, considered them important for the Christian life.  In fact, he considered them necessary for anyone who presumed to be a theologian, the three attributes for that office being meditation, prayer, and tentatio–struggle, trial, assault–the closest he could come in Latin to the untranslatable German word Anfechtung.

In looking for a good description of Anfechtung for that Bach post I wrote recently, I came across “A Primer on Anfechtung” by LCMS pastor Paul R. Harris.  It’s worth looking at for its own sake and for what it discloses about a state of anguish that can seem devastating–especially since Christians seldom talk about it today–but which can draw us closer to Christ. [Read more…]

St. Sebastian, patron saint of athletes and of Rio

You don’t have to believe in the Roman Catholic cult of the saints to find it interesting that St. Sebastian–the one who was shot through with arrows–is the patron saint of athletes.  Also of this year’s Olympics host city Rio de Janeiro.  What is the connection?  Find out after the jump.

Luther said that we should not pray to the saints, but that we can learn from their example.  Note what we can learn about athletics from St. Sebastian. [Read more…]

Christ drains the cup

Read this remarkable meditation from Chad Bird on those times of suffering when God seems unresponsive–asleep, like Jesus in the storm.

It’s a powerful example of what I have been calling for, a theodicy centered in Christ.

I post an excerpt and a link after the jump.  You’ll want to read every word.  I also give a link to his book that this is taken from. [Read more…]

Stephen Colbert, God, and suffering

Stephen Colbert, who took over for David Letterman on The Late Show last week, is an iconoclastic comedian.  But he is also a devout Catholic.  When he was 10 years old, he lost his father and two brothers in a plane crash.  He talks about his faith and how he handled that tragedy–also J. R. R. Tolkien and how gratitude points to God– in an interview with GQ Magazine, excerpted after the jump. [Read more…]

Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

Today is the March for Life, a day to protest the Roe v. Wade decision, which opened the door to the abortion of untold millions of children.

Last Sunday was designated as “Life Sunday.”  One of the readings was about the calling of Nathanael (John 1:43-51), whose first words when Philip told him about Jesus was “can anything good come out of Nazareth” (1:46)?  You have got to see how Pastor Douthwaite tied that to life issues. [Read more…]

Two solutions for the terminally ill

Here are two heart-breaking stories of women with terminal brain cancer.  The first is moving to Oregon so she can avail herself of physician-assisted suicide, searching for control of her life and “death with dignity.”  The second says why she is rejecting that option and how she is putting her faith in Jesus Christ.  Read them both.  Discuss.

Article #1 by Brittany Maynard

Article #2 by Maggie Karner

HT:  Rev. James Douthwaite