Are you on your way to Sainthood? Well, if your spouse or child dies and it causes you despair or depression, Matthew Bellisario says: no deal:
Luther could not deal with death in his own family at all, in fact it brought him despair. The Saints did not act like this when faced with obstacles such as these. They looked to God in their trials of life, while Luther looked to himself. In fact after his daughter died it was said that instead of being at peace with God he went into depression. One writer says, "Whilst the plague was sweeping Europe, the untimely death of his daughter Magdelena sets him off into a deep depression and ruminations on the signs of the End Days."
Of course, one does wonder how Matthew deals with John 11: 35-
33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34"Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. 35Jesus wept. 36Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"
Jesus wept? What? Why didn't Jesus act with the same stoic demeanor of one of his saints? Death impacted him, he wept and was "deeply moved in spirit and troubled." The Bible presents death a dreadful thing, even the Lord realized this. That someone feels the pain of loss is not a sign of spiritual weakness. If Roman Catholicism really teaches this is what it means to be a saint, to not feel the pain of loss, then I consider Catholicism not only theologically wrong, but morally wrong. Perhaps Bellisario has yet to suffer loss. I dare him to find a Catholic who's recently lost a child or a spouse, and put forth this type of stupidity, to let them know if they don't claim "peace" but are rather depressed, they aren't acting like one of the saints.
Among [Luther's] children, his Lenchen, a pious, gentle, sensible child, who clung to him with her whole heart, was his especial favorite. We still possess a pleasant picture in which, according to an old tradition, she was painted by Cranach, the family's friend.
But she was taken from him by death in the bloom of her youth after a long and severe sickness on the 2Oth of September, 1542. What he had already felt at the death of his little Elizabeth, he now had to feel more deeply and sorely. While she was lying sick, he said: " I love her dearly; but, O God, if it is thy will to take her hence, I will be content to have her with thee." And to her he said : " Lenchen, my dear daughter, you would like to remain with your father here, and still would like to depart to the Father beyond ; " and she answered: " Yes, my dear father, as God wills." And when she was in her last moments, he kneeled before her bed, wept bitterly and prayed for her salvation, upon which she departed in his arms. When she was lying in her coffin, he looked at her and said: " O dearest Lenchen, you will arise again and shine like a star, yes, like the sun ;" and again: " In my spirit I am indeed joyful, but according to the flesh I am full of grief; the flesh will not be content; the separation pains me exceedingly. It is a strange thing that, although she certainly is at rest and it is well with her, we are yet so sorrowful." To the many who were mourning, he said: "I have sent a saint to heaven; O, that we would have such a death! such a death I would welcome this very hour."
The same sorrow and the same exaltation above sorrow he expresses in his letters to his friends. Thus he writes to Jonas: "You will have heard that my dearest daughter Magdalena has been born again into Christ's eternal kingdom; and although my wife and I should only be joyfully grateful for her blessed departure, through which she has escaped the power of the flesh, the world, the Turk and the devil, yet the power of nature's love is so great that we cannot do it without tears and heart-felt sighs and even a severe death within us; so deeply and firmly the features, words and actions of the living and dying, the obedient and submissive child, are engraved in our hearts that not even Christ's death can entirely expel this grief." His son John, whom the sick sister was anxious to see once more before her death, had been called home from Torgau two weeks before, and he wrote in this connection to Crodel: " I would not that my conscience should later blame me for having neglected anything." But when the boy several weeks later, about Christmas time, influenced by his continued grief and by the tender words his mother had spoken to him, wanted to leave Torgau for good and remain at home, his father exhorted him manfully to overcome his grief and not to increase his mother's sorrow by it, and to obey God who had sent him there through his parents. [source]
Luther s Epitaph on Magdalene.
DORMIO cum sanclis hie Magdalena Lutheri Filia, et hoc strato tefta quiesco meo. Filia mortis eram, peccati semine nata, Sanguine sed vivo, Christe, redempta tuo.
HERE sleep I, Lenichen, Dr. Luther's little daughter, Rest with all the Saints in my little bed : I who was born in sins, And must forever have been lost. But now I live, and all is well with me, Lord Christ, redeemed with Thy blood. [source][source]
To Nicolas Amsdorf Reply to letter of consolation on Magdalene's death. October 29, 1542 (about a month after Magdalena's death).
Grace and peace ! Many thanks, most excellent friend, for trying to console me on my dearest daughter's death. I loved her not only because she was my flesh, but for her placid and gentle spirit and her dutifulness to me. But now I rejoice that she is sleeping sweetly in her Heavenly Father's home till that day. Alas, for the days in which we live ! And they are daily becoming worse. I pray that we and all dear to us may be granted such a blessed hour of departure as was her lot. I would call this really sleeping in the Lord, not experiencing one pang of fear. This is the time of which Isaiah speaks, " The righteous is taken away from the evil to come ; they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness," just as when one gathers the wheat into the barn, and commits the chaff to the flames, a punishment the world has deserved for her ingratitude.
To Justus Jonas Luther tries to comfort his friend on the death of his amiabte wife. December 25, 1542. (a few months after Magdalena's death)
Grace and peace in Christ, who is our salvation and consolation, my dear Jonas ! I have been so thoroughly prostrated by this unexpected calamity that I do not know what to write. We have all lost in her the dearest of triends. Her bright presence, her eye so full of trust, all drew forth our love, especially as we knew that she shared both our joys and sorrows as if they had been her own. A bitter parting in very deed, for I hoped that after I was gone she would have been the best of comforters for those I left behind. The deep longing after one so distinguished by piety, propriety, and ami- ability makes me weep. Therefore I can easily imagine your feelings. Temporal consolation is of no avail here. One must look solely to the unseen and eternal. She is our precursor into the regions beyond, where we shall all be gathered on our dismissal from this vale of tears and this corrupt world. Amen.
Mourn, therefore, as you have good cause to do, but at the same time comfort yourself with the thought of the common lot of humanity. Although according to the flesh the parting has been very bitter, nevertheless we shall be reunited in the life beyond, and enjoy the sweetest communion with the departed, as well as with Him who loved us so, that He purchased our life through His own blood and death. It is very true that God's mercy is better than life. What does it matter though we should suffer a little here, when there we shall partake of joy unutterable Oh, what a gulf separates those Turks, Jews, and, still worse, those Papists, Cardinals Heinz and Mainz, from this glory ! Would they could weep now, so that they may not mourn eternally ! For we, after mourning a little while, shall enter into joy, whither your Kathie and my Magdalena have gone, and are now beckoning us to follow. For who is not weary of the abominations of our time, or rather of this hell, which pains spirit and eye day and night ? I am too grieved on your account to write more. My wife was thunderstruck when she heard the news, for she and your wife were as one soul. We pray God to give you temporal consolation. For you have good cause to rejoice when you know your pious wife has been snatched from your side to enjoy everlasting life in heaven. And of this you cannot doubt, as she fell asleep in Jesus _ with so many pious expressions of her faith in Him. Thus also slumbered my little daughter, which is my great and only consolation. God, who has tried you, will comfort you now and for ever. Amen. Martin Luther. [source]
...if the devil notices that you have the Word and are confident that your life is pleasing and acceptable to God on account of the Word, he will not rest but will put in your way trials and afflictions of every kind even in the most trivial matters. You will experience faithlessness on the part of the household, the hatred of your neighbors, and the death of your children or of your wife.(2) All these things will happen in order that your faith may be exercised. But if the Word is not there, impatience and displeasure follow because of such an irksome and miserable kind of life, just as we hear many who exclaim that they entered into marriage not because God led them but because the devil urged them to do so.
Luther, M. (1999, c1968). Vol. 5: Luther's works, vol. 5 : Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 26-30 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (5:5). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.