“Such a moment is strange to none of us, certainly not to any who have seriously sought to live with God. When we are disturbed by the chaos in our own personal life, when we are not ready to face it, when again and again every security fails us and there is no firm ground under our feet, when our life hangs between good intentions and shame, when it becomes inevitably clear that we are weak, when some unmanageable fate comes over us, a great sorrow or a great passion and we are horrified at the inevitable working out of this fate, when we can see only how faithless and hopeless we are caught in our errors or when friendships are finally broken, when with the best will in the world we cannot find reconciliation with the other, in short, when we take seriously the whole human chaos in which we are stuck–then it all comes over us and we say to God: Lord, I can bear no more. I can’t take any more. No, I don’t want any more. I am too deep in the mire. God, don’t speak any more to me, for I will not hear you. God, we have nothing more to do with each other. And then it happens that we want to hear something new and at that moment, we hear afresh: ‘Peace, courage.’ Courage, which God gives is like a mother taking hold of her child who is out of control with so many faults and failures, who is now very unhappy and begins to cry. She takes his hand and gives him a new chance: ‘Now, let’s try that once more.’ Courage, courage–so God speaks to us when we are disgusted with ourselves.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.’
Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning.
‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said, ‘for you are very precious to God.
Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!’”
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Dare you admit to yourself or others the “human chaos in which we are stuck?” If not, why not?
- When you’re “deep in the mire” and angry with God, do you feel safe being as honest with God as Bonhoeffer is here?
- When you’re acting like a child and God wants to parent you, can you let God do that?
Abba, grant me courage when I’m overwhelmed and in despair. Take my hand. Hold me tight.
For More: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons edited by Edwin Robertson
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