Days of Trouble
For many Christians, sitting still while “days of trouble” threaten to overwhelm us is more of a strain on our conscience than direct action. More than that, when we can identify the source of trouble, our inclination is often to rage against attacks to our body or property. And it is not only earthly authorities who attack our body and possessions that trouble us, false spiritual leaders also contend against us, tireless in their campaigns for our soul and spirit. How, then, are we Christians to enjoy good days when every day our body, soul, and life is threatened?
The “days are evil,” as St. Paul writes, and our only comfort when peoples’ sinful desires threaten to overcome us is the Gospel. However, as Christians, we also recognize there is a paradox about this because it is the Gospel that earthly authorities and false spiritual teachers contend against. It is not our character that is the cause of so much offense, it is the Gospel by which we comfort and console ourselves in every situation.
God’s Word of Gospel stirs up violence when it is preached. When the Gospel is confessed days of trouble erupt. Trouble is a by-product of the Gospel word. Satan cannot stand the Gospel, and so he goes to work to undermine and render God’s Word an impotent and absurd message. Through his agents, the devil raises up earthly tyrants and false teachers so that Christians never enjoy peace. As Dr. Luther wrote, “… there is never less peace, and there are never more wicked people and more offenses than in a time of grace and peace.”
Whenever and wherever the grace of God in Christ Jesus comforts sinners, which is what happens when the Gospel is proclaimed, people will become more and more wicked. But, this is what happens when God’s Word of Gospel is proclaimed. We Christians can complain about days of trouble and this “present evil age”, but the only way for us to escape them is to abandon the Gospel, which is the same as saying, “Let us flee from Christ! Let us run away from God’s faithful, loving, kindness so that we can enjoy good days and peace as the world imagines good days.”
On the other hand, when Christians stick their nose in the Scriptures, pray for grace and peace to be delivered to them through the Gospel and gifts, and wait on their Savior Jesus to send us a preacher, we then KNOW true peace that the world cannot comprehend. Jesus Christ Himself is our peace; He Who was also attacked, tortured, and executed for the sake of the Gospel. How can we who are in Him, who are called “friends” by Him, who are grafted into His body through faith, expect to receive anything else from the world than what our Lord received? In this is our true grace and peace, and for that we are chosen to suffer for the sake of the Gospel.
And as for those who attack the Gospel, their end is a pit they dig for themselves. Their destruction, as the Psalmist writes, is in their own hands. What is intended to be the end of the Gospel (and therefore our end too, both physically and spiritually) is instead used by our heavenly Father to bring us into a deeper relation to Christ Jesus. What is meant to be our destruction, is instead used by God as the instruments of our salvation. This is what God must teach us Christians day after day, that even in the midst of death we will live because we are the Body of Christ, and He cannot forsake Himself.