When To Fight Most Vigorously Against God

Pentecost 22 Monday

Genesis 32:24

“Then a Man wrestled with Jacob until dawn.”

Yet the temptation of despair which usually comes with this game that God plays with his saints makes the pain and terror of the flesh greater and greater, namely, when such a sorrowful heart laments that it has been abandoned and rejected by God. This is the last and also the gravest temptation of unbelief and despair by which the greatest saints are usually tested. And those who pass this test standing arrive at the perfect knowledge of the will of God, so that they can say with Jacob: “I have seen God face to face,” Genesis 32:30. “I did not think that God meant it so well with me”–but before we get to that realization things will become sour for us. Therefore, the teaching in this account is now apparent and clear, namely, it is about the temptations of the greatest saints who taste with great sweetness how kind the Lord is, Psalm 34:8. Now, although not everybody can comprehend or understand this difficult struggle, the people in it are not therefore to be rejected–We have already talked in general terms about apparitions. And we should know that we should not believe all apparitions unless they are similar to the faith. I want to retain the Word of God and be content with it; I will die with it and live with it. There is help and comfort enough in God’s promise, not only against the devil, the flesh, and the world, but also against this high temptation…Even when God himself appears in his majesty and says: “You are not worthy of my grace; I will change my mind and not keep my promise to you”–even then I should not cede, but should fight most vigorously against God, just as Job 13:15 says: “Even if he killed me, I will nonetheless hope in him.” Even if he cast me in to the depth of hell and placed me in the midst of the devils, I will nonetheless believe that I shall be saved. For I am baptized, absolved; I have received the pledge of my salvation, namely, the true body and blood of the Lord
Christ in the Supper. I will, therefore, neither hear nor see anything else, but will live and die in this faith, even if God, an angel, or the devil said the opposite. This, I think, is the right explanation of this text. For this is how Jacob himself
explains it at the end when he well says in verse 30: “And my soul has been healed.” This likeness of the struggle and battle in the saints, then, is full of comfort.

Walch ed., 2:1144-1146.

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