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  • Writer's pictureCody Mills

Rise of the Bubonic Plague?

Martin Luther lived during the bubonic plague as it swept the Eastern countries. The bubonic plague was a devastating time as many bodies were dropped into the streets as they died through the night. Yet, Martin Luther wrote some of his greatest works during this time. God’s words that once brought trouble and torment because of His wrath now gave Dr. Martin Luther comfort. Luther was and still is one of the most generous pastoral caregivers in this life. Luther’s pastoral care letters are studied across denominations. His love, care, and words are unmatched even today. We should give reverence to Luther’s understanding of the Gospel, promise, and Law as it carries through time. Understand, Luther's words were never his own. All the love and understanding came from scripture alone and belong to God. Two subjects hold the record for book sales: The Bible and Martin Luther.

The year 2020 has been nothing short of an anomaly in time. The events that happened are wreaking havoc on our lives. There is sorrow, frustration, division, and fear as we watch friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and family die from the CoVid and other illnesses without the ability to be with them. It is the most humbling experience as we find ourselves without control over the situation. Our flesh is truly feeble (Matthew 26:41.)

In the time of the bubonic plague, the division among the people was far-reaching for several reasons, including the plague itself. During this time, Martin Luther was finding himself combating not only the plague but the political and religious divisions. There is a parallel that runs deep between the world of Martin Luther and today 500 years later.

There is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to fear because of what is happening currently, what has happened, or what will happen.

You may be told that you are weak and incompetent in your faith, but this could not be further from the truth. But certainly, those who are healthy need to support and pray for those who are losing their faith, wavering, or weak during this time (Romans 15:1). Understand that we all have different levels of faith, but any faith is still faith. We should never shame others for any weakness, and we should never convince them their faith is not enough.

Romans 15:1 We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.

For the ministers during this time has been troublesome. We have taken an oath to give spiritual care to which our hands have been tied by the government (John 10:11.) We are more than happy to take care of those who are ill. So now, we must take a different approach and learn new ways. Pastors know that the Church is here to give comfort and give sacraments to the needy in spirit. Yet there is no sin for the pastors that wish to be careful with their flock. Both are appropriate.

Just as much as it is without sin to flee or retract from others during this time, we should look to God to give us the courage to not flee from our duties as parents, caretakers, and public offices. All of which have duties to provide for the care and well-being of the creation that God has made. And so during this time, we are called to give continual reverence and praise to God. Give God full Creedence for what “is” in this world including a virus that has taken the lives of our loved ones. As odd as this seems, we give creed to God for loving and guiding us and providing us our daily needs in the time of pestilence. At the same time, we must always turn towards God for forgiveness and repentance.

Everybody must take this to heart: first of all, if he feels bound to remain where death rages in order to serve his neighbor, let him commend himself to God and say, “Lord, I am in thy hands; thou hast kept me here; thy will be done. I am thy lowly creature. Thou canst kill me or preserve me in this pestilence in the same way as if I were in a fire, water, drought, or any other danger.” If a man is free, however, and can escape, let him commend himself and say, “Lord God, I am weak and fearful. Therefore I am running away from evil and am doing what I can to protect myself against it. I am nevertheless in thy hands in this danger as in any other which might overtake me. Thy will be done. My flight alone will not succeed because calamity and harm are everywhere. Moreover, the devil never sleeps. He is a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44) and tries everywhere to instigate murder and misfortune.” -- Martin Luther

As undesirable as the current events are and the division that has occurred, prayer brings and unites us to Him! In prayer and supplication, we give hope and opportunity to the weak and deliver it to those that need Him most. Give praise unto God so that it raises like incense before Him as it is done out of love for one another and creation. Give praise to God for all that He has done, even in the time of pestilence. Give hope to one another by serving in the offices that you have been given for vocation. I give thanks to the nurses and emergency crews that sacrifice their lives to help those in need. I give thanks to those clergy that continue to serve to the best of their ability. I Give thanks to a government that cares for the people, even when they cannot agree on how to best care for the people.

Dear Lord, I continue to ask for your guidance in this time of great need. Help those who live in fear of death and give them hope through your words of comfort that death has no hold over us who find rest in you. I also give thanks in part to the pestilence to understand the love that is truly needed in this world. Thank you for giving us such great humiliation that we are not in control, but you are in control indeed. Help us, O Lord, to find the strength to serve to the best of our capabilities. Amen. To see the full Letter from Marin Luther to a soul in trouble during the bubonic plague, click the link below.

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