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Luther takes Luke 2:41-52, the account of the Boy Jesus in the temple, and takes it in an unexpected direction. In one of his sermons he focuses almost entirely on the Christian’s cross — the suffering that God willingly allows His children to experience, so that they can better cling to His promises and lean on His grace for everything. The following quote struck a chord with me. Perhaps you’ll read it and nod along, too. What he says is true: if you’ve been there, you know; if you haven’t, it’s impossible to describe. The Word alone brings us through. “Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I sit in darkness, the LORD is light to me.” (micah 7.8)

And this is the greatest and most severe trial and suffering which God at times visits upon and exercises over His saints, namely, that which we are accustomed to call deserted by grace (desertionem gratiae), on account of which the human heart feels as if the grace of God had been withdrawn, so that no matter where it turns it sees nothing but wrath and terror. But this great trial is not experienced by every one, and no one can understand its significance unless he has experienced it. A strong spirit is required in order to endure such blows.

— Martin Luther, from a sermon on Luke 2:41-52