Finding earthly happiness in God

Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

And finally as pertains to the Christian dimension of the matter, the hymn reads, “that we may not forget / what one so readily forgets, / that this poor earth / is not our home”; it is indeed something important but is nevertheless only the very last thing. I believe we are so to love God in our life and in the good things God gives us and to lay hold of such trust in God that, when the time comes and is here – but only then! – we also go to God with love, trust, and joy. But – to say it clearly – that a person in the arms of his wife should long for the hereafter is, to put it mildly, tasteless and in any case is not God’s will. One should find and love God in what God directly gives us; if it pleases God to allow us to enjoy an overwhelming earthly happiness, then one shouldn’t be more pious than God and allow this happiness to be gnawed away through arrogant thoughts and challenges and wild religious fantasy that is never satisfied with what God gives. God will not fail the person who finds his earthly happiness in God and is grateful, in those hours when he is reminded that all earthly things are temporary and that it is good to accustom his heart to eternity, and finally the hours will not fail to come in which we can honestly say, “I wish that I were home.” But all this has its time, and the main thing is that we remain in step with God and not keep rushing a few steps ahead, though also not lagging a single step behind either. It is arrogance to want to have everything at once, the happiness of marriage and the cross and the heavenly Jerusalem in which there is no husband and wife.

Letters and Papers from Prison


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