God in Suffering
In an age of “name it and claim it” theology where God becomes our tool to accomplish our own worldly desires, we need words like Luther’s which thunder against any and all forms of triumphalism. Here is Luther, from his explanations of Theses 20 & 21 of the Heidelberg Disputation (1518).
Because humans misused the knowledge of God through works, God wished again to be recognized in suffering–to condemn wisdom concerning invisible things by means of wisdom concerning visible things, so that those who did not honor God as manifested in the Divine works should honor God hidden in suffering…Now it is not sufficient for anyone, and it does one no good to recognize God in Divine glory and majesty, unless one recognizes God in the humility and shame of the cross. Thus God destroys the wisdom of the wise, as Isaiah (45:15) says, “Truly, you are a God who hides yourself.
So, also, in John 14, where Philip spoke according to the theology of glory: “Show us the Father.” Christ forthwith set aside his flighty thought about seeking God elsewhere and led him to himself, saying, “Philip, he who has seen me has seen the Father.” For this reason, true theology and recognition of God are in the crucified Christ…
This is clear: He who does not know Christ does not know God hidden in suffering. Therefore he prefers works to suffering, glory to the cross, strength to weakness, wisdom to folly, and in general, good to evil. These are the people whom the apostle calls “enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil 3:18), for they hate the cross and suffering and love works and the glory of works. Thus they call the good of the cross evil and the evil of a deed good. God can be found only in suffering and the cross, as has already been said.