“When human suffering is understood in its deepest meaning, it ceases to be something negative that is experienced in a passive manner. Rather, one becomes free to meet suffering with courage, seeing it as an opportunity for active and positive collaboration in the work of human redemption. Through God’s grace, it … is no longer wasted. For this reason, John Paul exclaimed, “Prayer joined to sacrifice constitutes the most powerful force in human history.”‘
Jason Evert, ‘Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves’.
“Luther understood that the self could not conquer self-love, but that it was conquered when the self found its security in God, was delivered from anxiety and thus set free to serve the neighbour self-forgetfully.”
Richard Niebuhr, ‘Christ and Culture’ (p173-4)
Now rest beneath night’s shadow
The woodland, field and meadow,
The world in slumber lies.
But you, my heart, awaking
And prayer and music making,
Let praise to your creator rise.
The radiant sun has vanished,
Its golden rays are banished
From darkening skies of night;
But Christ, the sun of gladness,
Dispelling all our sadness,
Shines down on us in warmest light.
Now all the heavenly splendor
Breaks forth in starlight tender
From myriad worlds unknown,
And we, this marvel seeing,
Forget our selfish being
For joy of beauty not our own.
Lord Jesus since you love me,
Now spread your wings above me
And shield me from alarm.
Though satan would devour me,
Let angel guards sing over me:
This child of God shall meet no harm.
My loved ones, rest securely,
For God this night will surely
From peril guard your heads.
Sweet slumbers may he send you
And bid his hosts attend you
And through the night watch over your beds.
Paul Gerhardt, ‘Now rest beneath night’s shadow’ (Lutheran Worship Hymn # 485)
“O kindest Father, God of all hope and comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3), grant to me life-giving comfort and true peace of conscience in all the difficulties of life. My heart is full of anxieties, but Your comforts are able to delight my soul (Psalm 94:19). All the comfort of the world is empty and futile. In You alone is strength and support for my soul. All sorts of misfortunes weigh heavy on me, but Your encouragement and comfort lighten the burden. Nothing in all creation can bring me down and sadden me so much that You cannot gladden me by Your Spirit of joy (Psalm 51:12). No adversities can so surround and capture me that my heart cannot be freed by Your grace. The heat of various afflictions harasses me, but the taste of Your sweetness brings me cool consolation. The tears stream from my eyes, but Your gracious hand wipes them away (Revelation 7:17).
Just as You allowed Stephen, the first martyr, to see Your gracious face even as he was being stoned (Acts 7:52), so also You allow me, wretch that I am, the full enjoyment of Your comfort though I am surrounded by misfortune. Just as You sent a consoling angel to Your Son in the most bitter agony of death (Luke 22:43), so also You send me Your sustaining Spirit in my struggle. Without Your strength, I would break under the weight of the cross. Without Your help, I would be destroyed by the attack of numerous adversities. But can the waves of the world, even of its most turbulent seas, overthrow the rock of my heart (Psalm 18:2; 19:4), which I have firm in You, the highest and unchangeable good? Surely Your peace surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). That same peace also will overcome every attack of misfortune. I beg You with humble sighs for that inner peace. Amen.”
Johann Gerhard, ‘Meditations on Divine Mercy’ (Translated by Matthew C. Harrison).
“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”
Pope John Paul II
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4: 16-18
“Faithful God, whose mercies are new to us every morning, we humbly pray that You would look upon us in mercy and renew us by Your Holy Spirit. Keep safe our going out and our coming in, and let Your blessing remain with us throughout this day. Preserve us in Your righteousness, and grant us a portion in that eternal life which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.”
Lutheran Service Book (LSB)