How Suffering Improves Faith

[Abraham believed that] God... gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
ROMANS 4:17
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How Suffering Improves Faith
[God says]: "I can call into existence the things that do not exist (Romans 4:17) and change sadness and all heartache into sheer happiness. I can say: 'Death and grave, be life! Hell, become heaven and bliss! Poison, be precious medicine and refreshment! Devil and world, be of even greater service to My beloved Christians than the blessed angels and the pious saints!' For I can and will cultivate My vineyard in this way. All kinds of suffering and adversity will only improve it." Therefore even if all the devils, the world, our neighbors, and our own people are hostile to us, revile and slander us, hurt and torment us, we should regard this as no different from applying a shovelful of manure to the vine to fertilize it well, cutting away the useless wild branches, or removing a little of the excessive and hampering foliage. When our enemies think that they have inflicted great harm on us and avenged themselves well, all they actually achieved is to teach us all the greater patience and humility, and to make us believe all the more firmly in Christ.

From Sermons on the Gospel of John, Chapters 14-16 (Luther's Works 24:198)
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