Shawn Thomas on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Preparation for Trials
July 27, 2015 in Bonhoeffer for the Twenty-First Century, Bonhoeffer Quotes, Books, Discipleship, Eberhard Bethge, Eric Metaxas, Prayer, Scripture Meditation, Serving Jesus in the Severest of Trials, Standing Against Evil in Society, The Grace of Living Well and Dying Well | Tags: deitrich bonhoeffer books, dietrich bonhoeffer, eric metaxas, shawn thomas, spiritual disciplines, trials
Proverbs 24:10 says: “If you are slack in the day of distress, your strength is limited.” This Proverb teaches us a very practical principle: if you have not conditioned or prepared yourself for times of difficulty, you are going to have a very difficult time managing it through your trial. You need to prepare yourself in advance. This is especially true regarding our practice of the spiritual disciplines, and the trials that we all eventually face.
A good example of this may be found in the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Eric Metaxas, in his biography of the German pastor & theologian writes of how the practice of the spiritual disciplines played a significant role in his ability to deal with his imprisonment and eventual martyrdom:
From the beginning of his time (in prison) until the end, Bonhoeffer maintained the daily discipline of scriptural meditation and prayer he had been practicing for more than a decade. Each morning he meditated for at least half an hour on a verse of scripture. And he interceded for his friends and relatives, and for his brothers in the Confessing Church who were on the front lines or in concentration camps. Once he got his Bible back he read it for hours each day. By November he had read through the Old Testament two and a half times. He also drew strength from praying the Psalms, just as they had done at Zingst, Finkewalde, Schlawe, Sigurdshof, and else where. Bonhoeffer once told Bethge, who was about to embark on a trip, that it was all the more important to practice the daily disciplines when away, to give oneself a sense of grounding and continuity and clarity. And now, rudely thrust into an atmosphere intensely different from his parents’ home, he practiced these same disciplines. (Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxas, p. 438)
Bonhoeffer practiced in prison, the disciplines which he had already learned and practiced in advance. It is highly doubtful that he would have fared so well during his time of trial had he not built these spiritual practices into his life beforehand.