“It is God’s nature to make something out of nothing; hence one who is not yet nothing, out of him God cannot make anything. . . .Therefore God accepts only the forsaken, cures only the sick, gives sight only to the blind, restores life only to the dead, sanctifies only the sinners, gives wisdom only to the unwise. In short, He has mercy only on those who are wretched, and gives grace only to those who are not in grace.”
–Martin Luther, “Commentary on Psalm 38,” Luther’s Works 14:163.
This killer quotation from Luther is taken from Ronald Rittgers, The Reformation of Suffering: Pastoral Theology and Lay Piety in Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany (Oxford Studies in Historical Theology). It is about the new understanding of suffering that came about during the Reformation. It explores Luther’s theology of the Cross, pastoral care back then for the sick, and the “consolation literature” that emerged. HT to my son-in-law, Ned Moerbe, for pointing me to this quotation and to the book, which I’m looking forward to reading.