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From the Abyss

April 15, 2019
By Martin Luther

To you, O LORD, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: "What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? . . . Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me!"

PSALM 30:8-10

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From the Abyss

Faith struggles with weakness when the devil and the flesh exercise dominion, and it appears to the one struggling that faith is no longer present. Thus Jacob complains [Genesis 34:301: "I have become abominable to all my neighbors, I have been thrown into extreme danger, and I think of nothing but destruction." Where is faith here and the remembrance of the promises? Why does he not induce his heart to say: "You have prevailed against God. How much more, then, will you prevail against neighboring nations?" All this has slipped away from him. Trial devours the splendid promises and most glorious victories of faith. But he does not yet despair, although he is very similar to one in despair. He does not fall into misbelief and is not an unbeliever, although it appears so. This is trial, just as Paul says of himself: "So that we might not rely on ourselves, we had the sentence of death in ourselves" (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9). It is necessary for the saints to be disciplined in this way, to descend into hell and the abyss, and to be recalled from there into heaven.

From Lectures on Genesis (Luther's Works 6:219)

April 15