In Chapter 14 of Bonhoeffer: A Biography, Dietrich heads to London to take on the pastorate of two German congregations. He desired to keep his hand in practical ministry. While there, many concerned British and German thinkers wondered how to fight the Nazi take-over of the German church with the appointment of Muller as it’s leader or Reichsbischof.
In the midst of their concerns and plans, Dietrich seemed to foresee a time when the only work in the fight against Nazism would be the work of suffering faithfully.
While Hildebrandt, Niemöller, and Jacobi were thinking about how to defeat Müller, Bonhoeffer was thinking about God’s highest call, about the call of discipleship and its cost. He was thinking about Jeremiah and about God’s call to partake in suffering, even unto death. Bonhoeffer was working it out in his head at the same time that he was thinking about what the next move should be with Heckel and the church struggle. He was thinking about the deep call of Christ, which was not about winning, but about submission to God, wherever that might lead. In the letter to Sutz, he said, Simply suffering— that is what will be needed then— not parries, blows or thrusts such as may still be possible or admissible in the preliminary fight; the real struggle that perhaps lies ahead must simply be to suffer faithfully. . . . [F] or sometime [the church struggle] hasn’t even been about what it appears to be about; the lines have been drawn somewhere else entirely. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that Bonhoeffer was somehow thinking prophetically, that somehow he could see what was ahead of him, that at some point he would be able to do nothing more than “suffer faithfully” in his cell, praising God as he did so, thanking him for the high privilege of being counted worthy to do so.
Metaxas, Eric (2010-04-20). Bonhoeffer: A Biography (p. 196). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
When has suffering been the chief work of your life?
Is there someone you know suffering right now?
How can we come alongside fellow Christians who are called to a time of suffering so that they can be faithful and comforted in their struggle?