Devotions with Luther: In Need of Comfort

Noah’s Ark

“I will never again curse the ground because of humans, even though from birth their hearts are set on nothing but evil. I will never again kill every living creature as I have just done.”
Genesis 8:21 GW

SIT AT THE FEET OF MARTIN LUTHER

God is speaking here as if he were sorry that he had punished the earth because of humans. It almost sounds as if he is criticizing himself for dealing so harshly with the world. We shouldn’t take this as meaning that God changed his mind about his creation. Instead, we should take comfort from this passage.

God, in effect, blames himself in order to encourage and lift the spirits of his little flock. He tells his people that he wants to be merciful from this point on.

Noah and his family needed comfort. They were terrified by God’s anger, which had just destroyed the world. Because their faith was shaken, God wanted to show himself in a way that would make them expect nothing else but his good will and mercy. So he was present at their sacrifice, talked to them, and told them he was pleased with them. He told them that he was displeased about destroying the human race and promised never to do it again.

God wasn’t being inconsistent or changing. No, he wanted these people, who were witnesses of the effects of his anger, to change their attitudes and perceptions of him.

People who are going through spiritual trials know how important it is to hear words of comfort. They need to be told to hope in God’s good will and dismiss discouraging thoughts of impending doom. A whole day, even an entire month, may not be enough time to comfort them. Recovery from sickness often takes a long time. In the same way, wounded hearts can’t be quickly healed with one little word. Because God is aware of this, he uses a variety of ways to show people his good will and mercy—even blaming himself. 

This devotion is from “By Faith Alone: 365 Devotional Readings by Martin Luther.”

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Image by Anton Coberger - 0022381c, CC BY 2.0


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