The Silence of God | Helmut Thielicke

Pastors always have difficult situations to address—the death of a child, a natural disaster, or an incurable illness. There are times when the situation is so central to the life of the congregation that the pastor must address it from the pulpit. The difficulty here is perspective. The pastor, often in the middle of the situation, must rise beyond the situation and speak to the messiness of life from a divine perspective. It’s not easy to do. It’s almost impossible to do well.

Put yourself in the shoes of Helmut Thielicke during the Second World War. In light of the bombings, mass burials, and infiltration of demonic philosophy, he preached. In the preface to these sermons he admits that sermons at this time “have to be expressed before distracted people whose eyes still reflect the glare of the last air-raid and who thus have very accurate scales by which to assess the message” (ix).

Fortunately, you don’t have to live through the horrors of war to recognize that Thielicke’s words are solid truth. These messages are hard, always avoiding false hope while pointing the listener to the true light.

If you’ve read Thielicke before, you’ll recognize the way he transforms perceptive observations into a pithy phrase:

If the last hour belongs to us, we do not need to fear the next minute. (“I Am Not Alone with My Anxiety” 9)

Jesus is the one place in the world where we need not restrain our sorrows because He already knows them all. (“The Great Mercy” 36)

We cannot sink so low that God is not lower. (“The Message of Redeeming Light” 63)

Golgotha means pain in God. (“The Final Dereliction” 70)

The trouble is that we speak far too much about God in the third person. (“The Final Dereliction” 75)

When you take a minute to reflect on Thielicke’s pastoral setting, you can’t help but thank God that he still speaks to us through his servants in our struggles.

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