So it is with all other things; when it gets going it becomes too heavy, whether it be sin, devil, hell, or even our own conscience. But how are we going to do it? Where shall we go and hide ourselves? For us it looks as if the whole thing would fall to the ground. But on the other side they are confident and proud; they think they already have won the day. I too see the good Christopher sinking; nevertheless he gets through, for he has a tree which he holds on to. This tree is the promise that Christ will do something remarkable with our suffering. “In the world,” he says, “you shall have afflictions and tribulations, but in me you shall have peace” [cf. John 16:33]. And St. Paul says, “We have a faithful God who helps us out of affliction, so that we can bear it” [cf. I Cor. 10:13]. These sayings are staves, yea, trees, which we can hold on to and let the waters roar and foam as they will.
So in Christopher we have an example and a picture that can strengthen us in our suffering and teach us that fear and trembling is not as great as the comfort and the promise, and that we should therefore know that in this life we shall have no rest if we are bearing Christ, but rather that in affliction we should turn our eyes away from the present suffering to the consolation and promise. Then we will learn that what Christ says is true: “In me you shall have peace” [John 16:33]. (Luther’s Works, v.51, p.203)
2nd Tim. 4, v. 7-8. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]