Sermon Illustrations

Martin Luther’s Depression and the Hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God"

The year 1527 was the most trying year of Martin Luther’s life. On April 22 he was preaching in Wittenberg when he became dizzy and fainted. Over the next several months he dealt with debilitating depression and sickness. It had been 10 years since he had published his 95 theses. He had battled long and hard against the church and government, even against other reformers. Now he was broken and beaten. He wrote his friend Melanchthon about his illness, "I spent more than a week in death and hell. My entire body was in pain, and I still tremble. Completely abandoned by Christ, I labored under the vacillations and storms of desperation and blasphemy against God. But through the prayers of the saints, God began to have mercy on me and pulled my soul from the inferno below." Eventually with the help of doctors he regained his strength and health. Just as he was recovering a plague struck Wittenberg. Even though his wife was pregnant, Luther’s house was transformed into a hospital, and he watched many friends die. Then his son became ill and it looked as if he to would die. In the midst of all this he wrote his most famous hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."

From a sermon by Stephen Sheane, God Uses Thorns, 11/10/2009

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