My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Psalm 108:1
He grew up in a world of war for most of his young life and early adulthood. Soldiers burned his hometown. Later he and his wife lost four of their five children. Today is the birthday of hymn writer Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676), one of the most cherished poets of the early Lutheran church. His hymns, still found in our hymnals, reflect a deep faith forged in the fire of trials and tribulations.
As a pastor, Gerhardt practiced the Christian love and charity he preached, never turning a beggar, orphan, or widow away from his door. One historian described him as “a man of faith ready to dare or suffer all things for God’s sake.” Despite the troubles he knew all his life, his heart poured love of God in Christ, still enriching our worship over 300 years later: “Why should cross and trial grieve me? Christ is near with His cheer, Never will He leave me. Who can rob me of the Heaven That God's Son for my own To my faith hath given?”
During Lent, we remember his hymns of great faith lighting his way through darkness: “O love, how cheering is thy ray! All pain before thy presence flies; Care, anguish, sorrow, melt away Wherever thy healing beams arise. O Jesus, nothing may I see, Nothing desire or seek, but Thee! Jesus, Thy boundless love for me.”
Prayer: “O Jesus, nothing may I see, Nothing desire or seek, but Thee! In suffering be Thy love my peace, In weakness be Thy love my power; And when the storms of life shall cease, Jesus in that important hour, In death as life be Thou my guide, And save me, Who for me hast died.” Amen.
Response: Look for Gerhardt’s hymns in the hymnal and take time to read them.
(Devotions from "Cross of Ashes" by Christine Weerts, a Lenten devotional provided by Lutheran Hour Ministries. Copyright 2005, Int'l LLL. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend.)
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