The hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God gloriously celebrates God’s power. It was penned by the great 16th-century reformer Martin Luther, who believed God’s power could help believers overcome great difficulties — even depression. Given his pastoral heart, he sought to bring spiritual counsel to struggling souls. His compassion for those souls shines in numerous places, including his sermons, lectures, Bible commentaries and ‘table talks’. In addition, he devoted many letters to counseling troubled folk.
Luther’s writings reveal his knowledge of various emotional difficulties. For example, in August 1536 he interceded for a woman named Mrs. Kreuzbinder, whom he deemed insane. He described her as being “accustomed to rage” and sometimes angrily chasing her neighbor with a spear.
In addition, Luther’s wife, Kate, struggled with pervasive and persistent worry indicative of generalized anxiety disorder. Prince Joachim of Anhalt, to whom Luther often wrote, exhibited signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder, and he believed he had betrayed and crucified Christ. Conrad Cordatus, a pastor and frequent guest at Luther’s table, exhibited signs of hypochondriasis, a disorder involving preoccupation with fears of having a serious disease.
Besides observing mental difficulties in others, Luther had a compelling reason to affirm their reality. Luther himself endured many instances of depression. He described the experience in varied terms: melancholy, heaviness, depression, dejection of spirit; downcast, sad, downhearted. He suffered in this area for much of his life and often revealed these struggles in his works. Evidently he did not think it a shameful problem to be hidden.
Satan as the “accuser of the brethren,” causes Christians to dwell on past sins. Such thoughts induce melancholy and despair. Concerning a friend’s depressive thoughts, Luther wrote, “Know that the devil is tormenting you with them, and that they are not your thoughts but the cursed devil’s, who cannot bear to see us have joyful thoughts.” Luther recognized a spiritual truth about depression. One can expect Satan’s persistence until faith is destroyed, but in the midst of depression God is with us. He never leaves us alone. In the midst of trouble He draws near to us.
Sometimes the invisible God draws near through visible people, and they become the bearers of God’s comforting and strengthening words to troubled souls. What’s more, God seeks to assure us of His love and esteem. And through His Word, He counters Satan’s lies with His truth.
Some Martin Luther Quotes
“All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desired.”
“Faith is a living and unshakable confidence, a belief in the grace of God so assured that a man would die a thousand deaths for its sake.”
“Christ took our sins and the sins of the whole world as well as the Father’s wrath on his shoulders, and he has drowned them both in himself so that we are thereby reconciled to God and become completely righteous.”
“A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” by Luther
1. A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.
2. Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.
3. And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
- 300 Days With God In My Life (thebottomofabottle.wordpress.com)
- The Theology of Martin Luther: A Critical Assesment (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- Luther’s comfort when hated by the world (daringlutheran.net)
Quotes from, http://christian-quotes.ochristian.com/
2 thoughts on “A Mighty Fortress, Understood”
Reblogged this on Linda Kruschke's Blog and commented:
I don’t usually reblog posts from other blogs, but this one really touched me today. Bryan Lowe has written a great many encouraging and helpful posts, this is but one. I always appreciate his perspective as one who struggles himself with bipolar disorder and some anxiety issues as well. He shares today from what he knows of another great writer who shared from what he knew of the spiritual and emotional battle many face.
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