rebelling against low expectations

It Seems God Must Have Died


After reading my last post, my mother ran to grab “Deserted by God” by Sinclair Ferguson and read the following excerpt to me (pp. 14-17). I love his emphasis on all of us needing “long-term help”—not a quick-fix; the importance of God’s word in overcoming spiritual dryness; and the story he shares about Martin Luther’s wife (from which I drew the post title). Enjoy!

Ferguson writes: Most of us come to a book like this looking for help for ourselves or others: as quick a fix as possible. But quick counsel will only see us through from one crisis to the next. We need long-term help, and that can only be provided by long-term measures. Disciplined, thoughtful, prayerful study of God’s word, undertaken with the Spirit’s help is what we need. It will change the way we think, and consequently the way we live, and ultimately the way we feel.

When we study and meditate on the Scriptures, they begin to make a significant impact on the whole of our lives. They give “teaching”—about God, Christ, ourselves, sin, grace, and a multitude of other things. They thus bring us to know God, shape our thinking, and give us clear direction in life. They also “rebuke”—searching our hearts and touching our consciences. God’s word is

living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whome we must give account (Hebrews 4:12-13).

A cleansing process takes place when our lives are thus exposed to the influence of God’s word in Scripture. We are, as Jesus prayed, “sanctified” through the truth that is God’s word (John 17:16). That process is as important to our spiritual well-being as the cleansing of a wound is to its healing.

Paul then adds that Scripture “corrects” us. When I was a schoolboy, I regarded being rebuked and being corrected as synonymous and enjoyed neither! But Paul’s word correct is not simply another way of telling us we have gone wrong. In fact it was used outside of the New Testament in the world of medicine for correcting a damaged limb, mending a broken leg. Through God’s rebuke we see our need; though the healing powers of his word—its encouragement, redirection, assurance—our minds and spirits can be healed.

In fact, says Paul, all the equipment to help us to be stable servants of Christ can be found in Scripture. And stability is the very quality we need when we are discouraged and have begun to think, “I cannot stand it much longer.”

Most of all, Scripture refocuses our hearts and minds on the God whose character is revealed in it. Knowing him better is our deepest need. Meeting that need will put all of our other needs—our doubts, discouragements, depression, and disconsolation—in their proper context.

“It seems that God must have died!”

On one occasion when he was greatly discouraged, Martin Luther, the sixteenth century reformer, was forcefully reminded of this by his wife, Katharine. Seeing him unresponsive to any word of encouragement, one morning she appeared dressed in black mourning clothes. No word of explanation was forthcoming, and so Luther, who had heard nothing of a bereavement, asked her: “Katharine, why are you dressed in mourning black?” Someone has died,” she replied. “Died?” said Luther, “I have not heard of anyone dying. Whoever can have died?” “It seems,” his wife replied, “that God must have died!”

Luther took the point. He, a believer, a Christian, with such a great God to call his Father, was living like a practical atheist. But Luther knew that God was not dead. God was living, reigning, active in the events of history and in Luther’s own life. How foolish he had been! Discouragement was immediately banished.

Knowledge and love of God create an environment in which discouragement and a sense of depression or spiritual desertion find difficulty breathing. That, ultimately is what the psalmists discovered over and over again, and tell us in different contexts and a variety of ways. Let us sit at their feet and learn to see what they saw:

“Hear my voice when I call, O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek” (Psa. 27:7-8).

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psa. 27:13-14).

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • “Knowing him better is our deepest need. Meeting that need will put all of our other needs—our doubts, discouragements, depression, and disconsolation—in their proper context.”

    True, true. 🙂

    One of my favorite books, ‘Green Leaf in Drought’ by Isobel Kuhn, is about a young missionary family that was kept in China by the communists… not allowed to go home, not given the money they needed, not allowed to attend church or talk with anybody. The young wife, Wilda Mathews, wrote of how she was acting discouraged and depressed and upset about being sent there and then kept there, unable to even speak with anybody, when she realized she was being a witness. She realized God had silenced her lips so that she could more loudly be a witness with her actions and her life. And that rather than being a joyful witness of God’s Faithfulness and Love amidst such circumstances as the Chinese Christians also had to face, and would have to face for many years to come, she was witnessing to all who watched that He was not good to her and that He was unfaithful in caring for her.

    May God make us loyal witnesses of who He is, all He truly is and can be to us, and that He is ALIVE.

  • That’s a cool story about Martin Luther. Such a great reminder too. I also liked the post about being easily edified. They were both great!!! Psalm 27:13-14 are some of my favorite verses! I wrote them down one day to put on my wall and then forgot where the verses came from!! But since you put them up there I can find them now!!! Lol!! Oh, and your book was really good too!!! I’m excited about the new one!!! Keep up the good work!!!

  • WOW!! I REALLY needed to hear that!

    Thank you soo much for posting it!

    I really felt like you had hit the nail on the head with your last post, and it wasn’t untill I had read your last post that I realized, that is what my problem was!

    So hearing this has been so helpful and also seeing that other christians are going through the same thing, and it’s not just me.

    I always seemed to have this voice in my head saying “You are such a stupid christian! you sin all the time and you will never amount up to anything so just give it up and stop pretending to be a christian! You know you aren’t!” and I had to listen to that voice day after day after day!

    I still hear it allot, but I really hope God will help me drown it out..

    Thanks for all the awsome posts!


  • Praise the Lord for your mother, and Katharine von Bora. So very often, when I’m discouraged about my spiritual life, or about my plans, or longing for a husband or about anything else, I will try to remember that God is not dead, and he will always be my rock and fortress.

    Thank you so, so much.

  • Nice post! My favorite part is this:

    “And stability is the very quality we need when we are discouraged and have begun to think, “I cannot stand it much longer.””

    So true! Stability is something I long for along with getting rid of that “sense of depression”. So, God provides that through His living Word. So wonderful..

    God Bless all who read this,

  • Thank you for sharing this and wetting my appetite for “Deserted by God”. I am putting it on my list to read. I too look forward to growing past the ebb and flow through the power of God’s word – may it transform us by the renewing of our minds.

  • Great story. Great reminder.

    And Alesia, remember that greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). I think we all struggle with condemning thoughts from time to time, but God has given us the authority and ability to take every thought captive. One of my favorite verses is Romans 8:15 where it says that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of adoption as sons, by which we call out Abba Father. I love it because it reminds me that the negative thoughts I fight are not form God. Praying for you as you continue to fight the good fight.


    You said- “I always seemed to have this voice in my head saying “You are such a stupid christian! you sin all the time and you will never amount up to anything so just give it up and stop pretending to be a christian! You know you aren’t!” and I had to listen to that voice day after day after day.”

    I know that voice!!! Recently God showed me something though- that He doesn’t see me like that, He sees Christ because Christ has COVERED ME WITH HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS.

    Sometimes I try so hard (and yet not hard enough?) to be ‘a good Christian’ or person, and yet I fail because it’s ME trying, not me trying through Jesus’ strength.

    We need long term help, not a quick fix…

    Amen, Christianity isn’t just a ‘decision’ to ‘follow Christ’ THE END. It’s a lifelong journey which will end in us spending eternity serving, glorifying, and learning more and more about our Eternal, Infinite God.

    Secondly, THERE ARE WAY TOO MANY BOOKS OUT THERE TO READ!!! especially since we’ve really only got one lifetime to do it.

    Anyway, my reading list just got longer…

    In the Love of Christ~
    Jordan Elizabeth

  • This is exactly the way I feel!
    God speaks through His living word so often that it’s important to stay focused on it!

    Recently I went through a really painful time and I was being attacked constantly. So, I simply opened my Bible and read the first thing I came to. It was Psalms 27. I was so encouraged and I just kept praying it over and over again.

    Anyway, thank you for posting this and letting me know that I’m not the only one who’s been struggling with spiritual dryness!

    Your sister in Christ ~

  • Very good. Looking about today, you can get the feeeling that He isn’t here anymore, everyone seems to have forgotten Him, about the same equivelence as if someone died. . . their no longer here. We need to realize that He is still close, that He hasn’t ‘died’ and that we desparetly need to turn back to His grace and light.

  • Thanks for the post, it makes sense…

    We don’t go to church, we just read the bible for what it really says, and you know what? It is tottally different from what churches teach! The church (most churches anyway) say only a part of the scripture and when you read the whole thing it is tottally different from what they teach…just a thing to think about.

  • @Jordan (and Alesia): You made me laugh because I think we all are atleast acquainted with the voice Alesia “quoted”. Personally, that voice and I are best friends at times. I let the Devil take over and believe his lies easily. I don’t even try to put up a fight. But of course, the relationship comes to a halt when God’s word wets my dry heart. 🙂

    God Bless all who read this,

  • What a beautiful post! A great reminder that God is never dead, even when we lie to ourselves and feel like he is. He is all powerful and ever reigning. Thanks! 🙂

  • Whew! thanks for that reminder, guys; I needed it. BTW, I liked the Martin Luther example 🙂

  • Wow! Great reminder. That is totally true! I praise God for giving us this wonderful opportunity to have such great teens that really care about our world and low expectations! I thought I was the only one out there!

    God Bless


    P.S. Do Hard Things!

  • Thank you for the post.
    So bless me,
    especially the Martin Luther example and verses from Psalm 27.


  • Wow! Thank you for posting this! I really, really needed to hear this!
    I have details, if you want them, I’ll be more than happy to share them. 😉


  • Thank the Lord someone out there knows what he’s talking about. It’s so easy to let God die in my life, yet it’s so hard to revive him again. Hey Camille, I could really use those details. Probably won’t be on much, but if you’ll post em’ I’ll definately use em’

  • So true!!! God uses his word to speak to us and change us. The Bible is the most important part in obeying the command to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

    I can definitely relate to those of you who mentioned Satan’s condemning voice. One of his primary strategies is to make us doubt our salvation.

    Josiah: It’s great that you read the Bible and get the whole picture. However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t need to be involved in a church. Look at Hebrews 10:24-25. Being part of a community of believers is a key part of Christian life and God works in the church in ways that don’t happen in personal or family study. I suggest that you find a church that is true to the Bible and also continue your own study. Both are important. There is no such thing as a perfect church just as there are no perfect people, but God instituted and works through the church and he wants believers to be part of a community of fellow believers. That is what I believe, but this matter is really between your family and God.

    In Christ,

  • Hey Nathan, here it goes! I hope by “post” you mean “comment”, because that’s all I do. 🙂

    Well, to summarize my entire spiritual life, I have always deeply believed in God and wanted to serve Him, but I have never really denied myself daily and taken up my cross to follow Him. I have surrendered my life, but not my every day behavior if you know what I mean. So anyway, just three weeks ago I went to a summer camp that Precept Ministries was putting on, hoping that the change of scenery and atmosphere would re-focus my life towards Christ. It really did! I was mainly inspired to study a book in the bible on my own. I have studied some books with a class, but never for by myself. Well, I’m still wanting to, I just haven’t done anything about it yet. Honestly, I can feel Satan trying to get me to forget about what God showed me. This post, mainly the part about- you guessed it -needing to immerse ourselves in Scripture, really hit home! The Lord reminded me that I need to know what He says, what He wants, in order to live a life for Him alone. So I’m now going to fight what I believe is Satan’s biggest hold on me: apathy in daily life; I’m going to (in God’s strength) DAILY give myself to Him, and to choose TODAY to read His word and to follow it! And everyone said, Amen! 😉

    How was that?
    Talk to you later


  • I thank God for His Word. When we sometimes don’t perceive Him or when we feel spiritually dry, we have His promises in the Bible that we can hold on to.

  • My Pastor really likes Martin Luther, and has told the story of his wife more then once. But I am so skatter brained I had forgotten it, and I am at a time when it would be a huge reminder and help. Thank you for telling about it, it is just what I need.
    I also like to think of Job. Often we think, at least I think, God is not near because of trails. But then Job will remind, “Shall we accept good from God and not bad?” God is always right with us, we just have to trust Him. Even if it is hard.
    Often in my case I think it would be easier to face persecution then daily trails. I would rather suffer big things for God, then bear little troubles at home, or small fears.
    Thank you for the reminder, and just when I needed it. Maye God bless you as you serve Him.
    In Christ alone, Heather

  • Haha… I love Kartharine von Bora (or Luther….) It’s so ridiculous how we work like that, isn’t it? Something goes wrong, and we sit there, moping and whining and complaining about how bad it is. We’re such idiots! Is God’s throne usurped because something went wrong for puny little me? Did God cease to care? Is his power lessened? By no means!

    Scripture is such an amazing gift! May we never ever take it for granted. Thanks for the post!

  • I’ve wondered if God sends dry times into our lives to teach us certain things or to show us what we’re really like: what’s inside comes out when we’re hard-pressed. I’ve had my own personal spiritual “droughts” – not times of rejoicing by any means! But when they’re over I’m always thankful for them, because it’s been in the hard times and in the valleys where I’ve gotten closest to God and learned more about His character, more about my-self, and learned the most about hope. It’s never really been a comfortable place to be for me and I’ve always found it a hard road to walk, but in the end, “[God] IS a rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek him out” no matter what the obstacles. In the end like Brett said “knowledge and love of God create an environment in which discouragement and a sense of depression or spiritual desertion find difficulty breathing”.

    “In You is strength to sustain me
    And wisdom enough to guide my hand
    Mercy enough to forgive me
    And power enough to finish what You began”

  • Brett-
    You are sincerely in my prayers. I understand much of what you’re going through right now. I have lost much sight of who God really is, and just how much He is involved in my life. I am too easily satisfied with the mere outward acts of Christianity, instead of edified by the truth of Christ’s sacrifice.

    I will definitely pray for you, as you prayer for us. God continue to bless you in your ministry.

    P.S. I’ll have something to send you soon. We’re almost finished with our design over here. 🙂

  • Oh I am so encouraged, like many other people have said, to see that others go through what I’m going through. I’ve had that experience like Luther of living like a practical atheist because of darkness in my walk with God, and the experience Alesia described earlier of hearing a “voice in my head saying “You are such a stupid christian! you sin all the time and you will never amount up to anything so just give it up and stop pretending to be a christian! You know you aren’t!” and I had to listen to that voice day after day after day!” I’m also really, really thankful for the exhortation that “disciplined, thoughtful, prayerful study of God’s word, undertaken with the Spirit’s help is what we need.”
    Thank you so much. God is good. He knows what we need!

  • This sounds like the last year or two of my life. I have felt lost and just like I’m waiting on God to do something. Like alot of times I feel like He’s just not around. But I know that I know better. I know He’s there and I know He loves me beyond imagination.

    Lately, I have been seriously drawing closer to God. I’ve been reading the devo “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers and it has really opened my eyes to alot of stuff I never thought of or never connected before. And I’ve also been trying to read “The Pursuit of God” by A.W. Tozer. And I’ve realized something recently. I actually grow more and get closer to God when I’m not focusing on trying to fix the sin I realize inside of me. Even if I think I’m trying to let God take control. It’s when I simply focus on Him. Not fixing anything or even Him changing me. Simply looking at Him.

    I mean, we should realize we have sin. But once we have crossed the line of giving our lives to God through Christ’s Atonement, our sin really shouldn’t be a focus anymore. We can’t do anything about it anyway. We do need to continue to realize it’s existance, but it shouldn’t be our focus. God will refine us. We simply need to keep our eyes on Him.

    Just a summary of my thoughts and meditations lately. I hope it makes sense. 😉

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  • Praise God, the God of Mercy and Grace for this wonderful post.

    Never will my God forsake and leave me. He’s the God of eternity, Alpha and Omega, Beginning and the End. the one and only God. This blog keeps me going. This is absolutely a blessing to those who are tired and weary. It’s amazing that my God is not dead! thanks co-rebelutionaries!

    Co-rebelutionary, Co-soldier, and Co-slave in Christ,

  • Isn’t it encouraging that we’re not the only ones who hear “the voice”, but that it afflicted people as “great” as Martin Luther?

    ~another poor afflicted soul protected by the grace of our Savior

  • This entry is something that completely has been on mind right now but “God’s not dead-He’s not even sick”. God has the power to transform our lives and He’s going to!! About a year and a half ago I moved and I didn’t know what God was thinking and to me it seemed like He wasn’t answering but now I know He was telling me to be patient and as I was I truly discovered that God sent me here for a great reason. God is by our side 24/7, even through our struggles. He’s there to help us and through him we can be SUPER-CONQUERER’S (Romans 8:37).

  • Oh my goodness!
    It’s great how God inspired Martin through his wife. What a wonderful idea He gave her. My Great Aunt Sarah is a teacher for younger children, and she gets ideas from God of people to dress up and act like. God teaches lessons to the kids through those make believe people. Katharine wasn’t make believing to be anyone else, but it’s amazing how God used her. I hope to be that close to God, that he uses me in such a creative way!

  • Hey Camille,
    Thanks soooooo much for your comment. It was so encouraging. sorry I didn’t see it immediatly. Life’s tough, and Satan uses it as a way to get at us. I don’t get to visit often, so sorry I’m late. God Bless and encourage you,

  • By the way, Camille,
    Thanks for actually taking the time to respond and care about someone elses problems. I’m working on it,
    In Christ,

  • When I first looked at the title of this article (“It seems God must of died!”) I thought the person who wrote this was not a christian. But after I read it, it made more sense, All christians should be in a firm-unbreakable realationship of god. So all Christians should know that god never gives up on anybody, even the people that don’t belive in him… We should all know that, even if were going through hard times.

    With all regards,

  • Camille,
    Life’s tough, and, again, it’s a blessing to know others care about fellow believers who are in a hole that they can’t get out of. Several good friends have gone suddenly, some that were new I wished I’d gotten to know better, The band that I was in dropped me and started a new one, just when we were becoming popular, some of my good friends and I can’t get along, and I’ve hit some bad stuff that I’m stopping, but struggling to stay out of again. Pride is killing me, I’ve lost control of my actions and my words, and I’m at a dead end. My family is awesome, Great mom, dad, brother, good home, great church, all that, but spiritually, just down the drain. I’m no longer excited, worshiping, changing, the ceiling is where the floor should be. I don’t know. THanks,

  • Hey,
    Sorry for heaping all that on you. I kind of burst, feel free to let me know if I over did it. I’m sure there are others out there with bigger problems. I’ll be prayin’. Even if life seems in the dumps, I guess I can at least accomplish one thing. GOD BLESS ALL YOU REBOLUTIONARIES, AND THE REBOLUTION, **#&@+ AND ITS MESSAGE.

  • Hey Nathan. (it’s me again!) For some reason I missed one of your comments (five up from the last one) and am just now reading it. I know what you mean. I feel like I’m spinning out of control with my words and am needing direction. Sorry about the band and stuff, that sounds pretty tough. I love my family so much, and they really are the greatest, but I’ve been having a lot of trouble getting along with them. Mostly my fault, I think. I want them to see me as a mature person, but instead of acting that way, I complain that they don’t treat me like I’m mature. Thanks for sharing!

    P.S. I think I’ve decided on studying Colossians with my friend!


  • Can I just say what a relief to come across someone who really knows what theyre talking about on the web. You unquestionably know tips on how to bring an problem to light and make it vital. Additional people need to read this and have an understanding of this side of the story. I cant believe youre not extra preferred since you certainly have the gift.

  • I tend not to leave many remarks, but i did a few searching and wound up here The Rebelution: It Seems God Must Have Died. And I actually do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be simply me or does it look like a few of the remarks come across like they are left by brain dead visitors? 😛 And, if you are posting on other online social sites, I’d like to keep up with everything new you have to post. Would you list of the complete urls of all your social sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →