M. Luther, Table-Talk
1 Th 5:16-18
To Lament or to Thank?
A Lamentation For The Things In Life That Were Denied
Why have I not these that they have?
Why have I not that which they possess?
My soul cries within, lamenting my life,
Where is the Sun that I am living in endless nights?
Does it seem good to Thee that Thou should oppress?
That Thou should despise Thy very own creation;
Whither art the Justice that Thou had promised?
That Thou from me now art hidden.
All I seek is safety and peace,
Does Thy hand provide these not?
Alas, my days are but extinguished!
And my spirit broken and rot
Whither art Thou, Oí Most Merciful?
Why answer not my cries to Thee?
The wicked scourge at me as if a fool,
The wise lament at my destiny.
A Thanksgiving For The Things In Life That Were Supplied
But if I own the whole realm of man,
What would I gain if I have not Thee;
If I have all the gold of the land
Losing my soul, what will profit me?
Lord, alas, my laments are not for lacks,
But those prayers are compelled by greed,
I want more than what I had,
And still more of what I do not need.
Teach me dear Lord to trust in Thee
On Thee alone I shall count
That in wealth or in poverty
I know to abase, I know to abound
Teach me dear Lord, to give thanks always
None that I own that Thou did not gave
Let my petty laments Thy praises turn
For this life that I did not earn.
Teach me dear Lord to magnify Thee
In good works for Thy lovesake
That Thy grace will thru me becomes charity
And mine charity will Thy grace spake
There is a choice for each of us, whether to lament for the things denied or to give thanks for the things supplied. Let us come to this issue with a first thought: that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Knowing this, we know therefore that even the things that were denied us were denied to our own profits. And for this, we ought also to give thanks; that God, our Father, had wisely prohibited some things, which are seemly good to us so that a greater good which only He knows, will eventually come about in our lives. The Christian man who has tasted Godís grace and has known Him to be a loving Father should know enough that God our Father who even makes His sun rise on the evilÖand sends rain on the unjust, will not forsake us.
Someone once asked me, why do the good suffer and the evil prosper? Augustine may thus answer him;
ďTo the divine providence it has seemed good to prepare in the world to come for the righteous good things, which the unrighteous shall not enjoy; and for the wicked evils things, by which the good shall not be tormented. But as for the good things of this life, and its ills, God has willed that these should be common to both; that we might not too eagerly covet the things which wicked men are seen equally to enjoy, nor shrink with an unseemly fear from the ills which even good men often suffer.Ē
Many a times we lament about injustice done to ourselves, about the lacks in our lives and about the luxuries that evil people seemed to be enjoying. Let us reflect; these are but grains and grasses; scattered when the wind blows and destroyed when the fire comes. We should not concern ourselves too much with pursuing the one or avoiding the other. Whenever good comes, let us receive it with gratitude and thanksgiving knowing that it flows from our Fatherís hand, and whenever evil falls, let us remember that It is impossible for a human heart, without crosses and tribulations, to think upon God and therefore humble ourselves to seek God knowing that even ills befall us by our Fatherís permit. Indeed rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks.
When we realized that the good and ills in this life visit everyone without discrimination, we must always remind those who are enjoying about the vanity of earthly luxury and encourage those who are suffering to turn away from their burden and to trust in God. Let everyone uphold one another. Perhaps we cannot carry one anotherís burden, but to quote Samwise Gamgee in the LOTR, I cannot carry your burden for you, but I can carry you.
Our gratitude and satisfaction of Godís providence must culminate in praises to Him. Such adorations are not limited to singing religious hymns; sing we must, but as we sing let us also remember those who are less fortunate than we are. The love of God in us should compel us to love others and in loving others there ought to be practical favours shown whenever necessary. Faith without work is dead. Grace Ė charis in Greek Ė once transmitted to our lives should be transformed into charity onto othersí. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
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