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We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.

~ Letters and Papers from Prison, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I rarely quote poems during my sermons. But on Sunday, I will quote the poem, “Guests” by Martha Snell Nicholson. We all have the unwelcome guest of pain in our lives. That is why we also need Jesus to help us.

Pain knocked upon my door and said
That she had come to stay,
And though I would not welcome her
But bade her go away,
She entered in. Like my own shade
She followed after me,
And from her stabbing, stinging sword
No moment was I free.

And then one day another knocked
Most gently at my door.
I cried, “No, Pain is living here,
And there is not room for more.”

And then I heard His tender voice,
“Tis I, be not afraid.”
And from the day He entered in—
The difference it has made!

For though He did not bid her leave,
(My strange, unwelcome guest),
He taught me how to live with her,
Oh, I had never guessed

That we could dwell so sweetly here,
My Lord and Pain and I,
Within this fragile house of clay
While years slip slowly by!

“It is infinitely easier to suffer in obedience to a human command than in the freedom of one’s own responsibility . It is infinitely easier to suffer with others than to suffer alone. It is infinitely easier to suffer publicly and honourably than apart and ignominiously. It is easier to suffer through staking one’s life than to suffer spiritually. Christ suffered as a free man alone, apart and in ignominy, in body and spirit; and since then many Christians have suffered with him.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, After Ten Years in Letters & Papers From Prison, 14

“Christ suffered as a free man alone, apart and in ignominy, in body and in spirit; and since then many Christians have suffered with him.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, After Ten Years in Letters & Papers From Prison, 14. 

“Christ kept himself from suffering till his hour had come, but when it did come he met it has a free man, and mastered it. Christ, so the scriptures tell us, bore the sufferings of all humanity in his own body as if they were his own–a thought beyond our comprehension–accepting them of his own free will. We are certainly not Christ; we are not called to redeem by our own deeds and sufferings, and we need not try to assume such an impossible burden. We are not lords, but instruments in the hand of the Lord of history; and we can share in other people’s sufferings only to a very limited degree. We are not Christ, but if we want to be Christians, we must have some share in Christ’s large-heartedness by acting with responsibility and in freedom when the hour of danger comes, and by showing a real sympathy that springs, not from fear, but from the liberating and redeeming love of Christ for all who suffer. Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior. The Christian is called to sympathy and actions, not in the first place by his own suffering, but by the sufferings of his brethren, for who sake Christ suffered.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, After Ten Years in Letters & Papers From Prison, 13-14. 

“To endure the cross is not tragedy; it is the suffering
which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

To endure the cross is not a tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ. When it comes, it is not an accident, but a necessity. It is not the sort of suffering which is inseparable from this mortal life, but the suffering which is an essential part of the specifically Christian life.

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), The Cost of Discipleship

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Christ kept himself from suffering till his hour had come, but when it did he met it as a free man, seized it, and mastered it.

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

August 2019
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