- That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks it even though it hinders Him.
Earlier in chapter one (1:9) he said: “What has been is what will be.” This is quite different from what he says here: “That which has been, already is.” There he was speaking about the works and things of men, here about the deeds of God. The human heart cannot be content with the things that are present; nor can it wish for what merely is, but only for what is to be. But once it has what is to be, it is still not content but looks for something else again. The heart is not satisfied. This is the condition of the human heart, always to be looking for future things but never to be satisfied. But God works and acts in the opposite way. With Him “whatever has been, is present”; that is, He does not turn away to future things. For it is said of Him (Gen. 1:31): “He saw everything that He had made, and it was very good.” God abides in the work that He does, and He does not overthrow it or run off to other and still other desires for the future, as the mind of man does. Those who walk according to God do this also; they are not diverted toward future things, to the neglect of the things that are present. The pious man does his work steadily and enjoys things steadily. Because God seeks it even though it hinders Him. As I have said, he is using antithesis to compare our efforts with the efforts of God. Our efforts are directed toward neglecting what we have, growing bored with it, and looking to what we shall have. God, on the other hand, follows through on what is and perseveres in His work, so that what He does may be stable. The efforts of the pious are of this kind also. Therefore he wants to say: Even when man wants and tries to hinder the work of God, God still seeks and defends His work, which men try to hinder and molest. Thus God has established David as king, but Absalom persecuted and molested him; but God in turn restored what Absalom hindered. The things that are done by God are not inconstant, as human counsels are, nor does God become bored with His counsels. (Luther’s Works, v.15 p.55-56)