You can listen to the devotion here.
In the Name of the Father, and (+) of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
1 Peter 1:6-9
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Devotion Based on Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me (LSB 756)
1 Why should cross and trial grieve me?
Christ is near
With His cheer;
Never will He leave me.
Who can rob me of the heaven
That God's Son
For me won
When His life was given?
2 When life's troubles rise to meet me,
Though their weight
May be great,
They will not defeat me.
God, my loving Savior, sends them;
He who knows
All my woes
Knows how best to end them.
3 God gives me my days of gladness,
And I will
Trust Him still
When He send me sadness.
God is good;
His love attends me
Day by day,
Come what may,
Guides me and defends me.
4 From God’s joy can nothing sever,
For I am
His dear lamb,
He, my Shepherd ever
I am His
Because he gave me
His own blood
For my good,
By His death to save me.
5 Now in Christ, death cannot slay me,
Though it might,
Day and night,
Trouble and dismay me.
Christ has made my death a portal
From the strife
Of this life
To His joy immortal!
You can listen to the hymn here.
The hymn commentary for today comes from Pastor Richard Resch as found in the Lutheran Service Book Companion to the Hymns Volume 1.
This hymn by Paul Gerhardt, originally in twelve stanzas, is a treasure of comfort. These words even comforted the author on his deathbed, for he spoke the final stanza used in the Lutheran Service Book as his dying prayer.
Many of Gerhardt’s hymns present the theology of the cross as sung poetry, though he is not the first to articulate this theology. Martin Luther spike of the theology of the cross in his Heidelberg Disputation of 1518. The place of trials (tentatio) in teaching the student of theology becomes a common theme in the Reformer’s writings from then on. We learn from him that the more we abide in God’s Word, the more the devil will afflict us. We can count on it. But such afflictions are good in that they cause us to seek and to love God’s Word all the more. Then, in 1539, Luther even gave thanks for the “pummeling, pressing, and terrifying” of the papists toward him, for he said that they helped to make him a decent theologian.
The background of Gerhardt’s hymn writing is a trial (tentatio) of a different kind; namely the ravages of the Thirty Years’ War, being surrounded by death for most of his life, and being removed from his call as pastor of St. Nicholas Church in Berlin for remaining faithful to his ordination vows. While Luther was able to see a blessed road in the persecution he suffered at the hands of papists, Gerhardt was able to confidently say, “Why should cross and trial grieve me? Christ is near with His cheer; never will He leave me.” As a result of Gerhardt’s crosses, the saints have hymns to sing about that unique, beautiful, and blessed road even as they suffer crosses of all types.
This is a sung sermon in which the singer learns the difficult lessons of how our Lord chastens, refines, and builds up the ones He loves. Here the baptized are catechized in the ways of their Father’s kingdom. Gerhardt does this teaching by asking and answering five questions in his original twelve-stanza text:
These questions and their answers are more or less preserved in the five stanzas in the Lutheran Service Book. But the answers are not easy ones to hear or live, for they reveal the often puzzling ways of God’s kingdom. Yet they have to be answered again and again for the faithful, because the world’s answers to these questions lead only to despair. Worldly answers can do no other, because they are outside of God’s beautiful plan for His children.
Lord God, heavenly Father, who in Your divine wisdom and fatherly goodness makes Your children to bear the cross, and sends diverse afflictions upon us to subdue the flesh, and quicken our hearts unto faith, hope and unceasing prayer: We beseech You to have mercy upon us, and graciously deliver us out of our trials and afflictions, so that we may perceive Your grace and fatherly help, and with all saints forever praise and worship You; through Your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, world without end. Amen.
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