Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison:
I believe that we ought so to love and trust God in our lives, and in all the good things that he sends us, that when the time comes (but not before!) we may go to him with love, trust, and joy. But, to put it plainly, for a man in his wife’s arms to be hankering after the other world is, in mild terms, a piece of bad taste, and not God’s will. We ought to find and love God in what he actually gives us; if it pleases him to allow us to enjoy some overwhelming earthly happiness, we mustn’t try to be more pious than God himself and allow our happiness to be corrupted by presumption and arrogance, and by unbridled religious fantasy which is never satisfied with what God gives… . Everything has its time, and the main thing is that we keep step with God, and do not keep pressing on a few steps ahead — nor keep dawdling a step behind. It’s presumptuous to want to have everything at once — matrimonial bliss, the cross, and the heavenly Jerusalem, where they neither marry not are given in marriage. “To everything there is a season.
Frederick Buechner on the sense of embarrassment provoked by the words “Jesus Saves”:
And maybe at a deeper level still, Jesus Saves is embarrassing because if you can hear it at all through your wincing, if any part at all of what it is trying to mean gets through, what it says to everybody who passes by and most importantly and unforgivably of all, of course, what it says to you is that you need to be saved. Rich man, poor man; young man, old man; educated and uneducated; religious and unreligious – the word is in its way an offense to all of them, all of us, because what it says in effect to all of us is, ‘You have no peace inside your skin. You are not happy, not whole.’ That is an unpardonable thing to say to a man whether it is true or false but especially if it is true because there he is, trying so hard to be happy, all of us are, to find some kind of inner peace and all in all maybe not making too bad a job of it considering the odds, so that what could be worse psychologically, humanly, than to say to him what amounts to ‘You will never make it. You have not and you will not, at least not without help.’
From Leo Tolstoy’s short story, “Where Love is, There God is Also”:
“I have no more desire to live,” he said; “I only wish I were dead. That is all I pray God for. I am a man without anything to hope for now.”
And the little old man said to him, “You don’t talk right, Martin: we must not judge God’s doings. The world moves, not by your skill, but by God’s will. God decreed for your son to die, for you – to live. Consequently, it is for the best. And you are in despair, because you wish to live for your own happiness.”
“But what shall one live for?” asked Martin.
And the little old man said, “We must live for God, Martin. He gives you life, and for His sake you must live.”