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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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A vale of soul-making

Why do you forget our affliction ...? Rise up, come to our help' (Psalm 44:24-26)

Not much evidence of spring on my walks these days: a foolhardy robin pecking vainly for a worm, an imaginary greening in the willows. Our forebearers considered this world as a vale of soul-making — the harshness of late winter and of life as God's way of teaching. The Creator intends us to grow by overcoming suffering, they thought. From difficulties accepted and overcome, we develop in mind, body and spirit.

Memories of Dietrich Bonhoeffer linger in my February musings: that young German Lutheran pastor awaiting his execution at the hands of the Gestapo in the waning days of the war in 1945. He had been consoling other prisoners moments before his hanging. His life was incomplete, its promise unfulfilled. Yet, I believe he felt closer to God than ever. Indeed, most lives are unfulfilled.


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