But finally, when the trial is over, the most merciful Father and Savior of our souls appears and says: “I am the Lord your God. I have scourged and harassed you.” Thus Joseph exclaims here: “I AM JOSEPH. I have irritated and disciplined you in various ways, not in a spirit of hostility or because of a desire to destroy you but rather to arouse penitence in you and a purging away of sin, that you might become righteous. Therefore do not fear; for I am not the person you imagine me to be, a cruel and harsh Egyptian tyrant. You are making a big mistake.”
In the same way the thoughts, the murmurings, and the suspicions of the godly concerning God are false. For we cannot understand the reason for His counsels. “What I am doing you do not know now,” Christ says to Peter in John 13:7, “but afterward you will understand. I shall wash your feet, but what this washing means you do not understand.”
Thus in the time of suffering we do not see the will of God and His counsels. For this reason those who are afflicted tremble horribly and struggle with unbelief, indignation against God, and despair. But when with God’s help they firmly retain faith and hope, lest they be completely cast down in spirit, then there is no danger; for God does not reckon those complaints and that murmuring as sin. Later, however, He comes and says: “I am the Lord your Savior.”
“But I did not know this,” says reason, “and I gained no other persuasion than that Satan was raging against me.” For nature cannot endure its ruin and destruction with equanimity; nor does it understand that trial is a purging. Therefore it shudders or is indignant and rages. Therefore faith in the Word is required, in order that we may be able to endure the hand of God and know what to rely on and where to find rest.
Those who are afflicted feel and complain that they are perishing and dying. Nor can nature think anything else when it is being mortified. It can say nothing else than “I am lost.” But oh, how happy and blessed the voice of Christians is if they can cling to the Word and say: “I have been baptized. I believe in God the Father. I believe in Jesus Christ”! Let only this remain firmly fixed in the heart. Then all will be well.
Luther, M. (1999, c1966). Vol. 8: Luther’s works, vol. 8 : Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 45-50 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther’s Works (8:7). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
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