Friday, March 17, 2017

was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan

Dear Nahum,

Some time ago I heard a poignent vignette about Dietrich Bonhoeffer's mother and older brother. Dietrich's brother went off to fight for the German army and not long after he left home, the news came that he had been killed. I believe he was only nineteen. His mother was — as any loving mother would be — heartbroken. But the song she chose for his funeral showed that even in her devastation, she knew God was still good and trustworthy. Here is the first stanza of the song, written by Samuel Rodigast:

Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan! 
Es bleibt gerecht sein Wille; 
Wie er fängt meine Sachen an, 
Will ich ihm halten stille. 
Er ist mein Gott, der in der Not 
Mich wohl weiß zu erhalten, 
Drum laß' ich ihn nur walten.

Here is the translation, by Francis Browne:

What God does that is done well! 
His will remains just 
However he deals with my affairs. 
I want calmly to place my whole trust in him 
He is my God, who in my troubles 
knows well how to support me, 
therefore I let him alone rule over me.

If you will indulge me, here's just one more stanza:

Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan! 
Er ist mein Licht und Leben, 
Der mir nichts Böses gönnen kann; 
Ich will mich ihm ergeben In Freud' und Leid; 
es kommt die Zeit, Da öffentlich erscheinet, 
Wie treulich er es meinet.

What God does, that is done well! 
he is my light, my life 
who can have no ill will towards me. 
I want to entrust myself to him in joy and sorrow.
The time will come when it will be clearly apparent 
how faithful his intention is.

(The rest of the song is also beautiful.)

When I heard this story, I was impressed by this German mother's faith in God in the face of suffering. I copied down the beautiful first stanza of the song. But I never expected I'd be thinking about the funeral of my son a year or two later. My list of ideas for songs for your funeral lies under my arm as I type this. "Her" song is on the list, and her example strengthens me.

There is so much peace in knowing a good God is watching over us. We trust Him — we entrust ourselves to Him and know He has no ill will toward us. I'm sure you feel His peace too, inside my womb. The same God who supported Dietrich's mother through sorrow supports us, too.

Because God is good,