A LETTER OF CONSOLATION IN THE LAST ILLNESS OF HIS MOTHER
By Martin Luther (May 20th, 1531)
Grace and peace in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Amen. My dearly loved mother,
I have heard of your illness from my brother Jacob, and am much grieved that I cannot be with you in person, but am with you in spirit, along with the others.
Although I trust your heart has for long been richly supplied with the comforts of God’s Word, and with preachers and comforters, still I shall contribute my mite thereto, as is the duty of a child to his mother.
First, dear mother, you know well that your sickness is a proof of God’s fatherly love, and that the uplifted rod is a small punishment compared to that with which the godless are visited, nay, even that which He brings upon many of His dear children, one beaten, the other burned, and so on, so that all must cry, “For Thy sake we are killed all the day long”. Therefore, all such suffering ought to be received as a mark of God’s favour, seeing it is a mere trifle compared to that of His dear Son, our Lord Jesus, which He endured for us.
And you, dear mother, know the foundation of your blessedness, Christ Jesus, the corner stone, who will never fail us, for He is the Saviour of all who in their deep need call upon His name. He says, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”. And now that death and sin have been overcome, we may be full of joy, and when sin frightens us we may say, “I will not listen to thy alarms, but to my Saviour’s word of consolation. Be of good cheer. This is my stay; upon it I will depend. It will not deceive me”. St. Paul also glories in it, defying the fear of death, exclaiming, “Death is swallowed up in victory”.
Occupy your heart, dear mother, solely with such thoughts, and be thankful that God has brought you to the knowledge of these things, not leaving you to trust in your own works and regard our Saviour as a cruel judge and tyrant, from whom we must flee to Mary and the saints for the comfort He only can give. But we now know the fathomless mercy of our Heavenly Father, and that Jesus is our Mediator and Bishop, daily interceding for us in God’s presence so that all who call upon Him may partake of His consolation, for He bare our sins on the tree, so we may boldly approach Him, calling Him by the sweet name of Saviour and Comforter, the true Bishop of our souls.
Therefore, joyfully thank the Lord for such tokens of His grace. He who has begun the good work will graciously finish it. For we are powerless to help ourselves. We cannot conquer sin, death and the devil by our own works, but there is One who can, and who says, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”. And again, “Because I live, ye shall live also; and your joy no man taketh from you”. The God of all consolation grant you a firm, joyful faith, so that you may overcome this, and all other distress, and at last experience the truth of these words, “I have overcome the world”. I commend you, body and soul, to His mercy. Amen.
All your children pray for you, also my Kathie. Some weep, others eat and say, “The grandmother is very ill”. May the grace of God be with us all. Amen.
Your dear son,