No, that is not a sneeze. It is a German word used by Martin Luther for what is a multi-faceted concept. David P. Scaer writes in his article (I’ll be quoting a lot from it in this blog) on this subject in the Concordia Theological Quarterly, “Some words defy adequate translation.” Several theologians and pastors have tried to translate this term into English:
Pieper’s Christian Dogmatics uses “temptation”
Herbert Bouman uses “trials”
Plass in What Luther Says uses “affliction”
The American Translation of Luther’s Works adds “tribulation”
Anfechtung is certainly one of those terms which are difficult to explain with a single word. It seems that these are the four best words, in my opinion, which make up this term. I will follow Rev. Scaer’s thoughts and utilize each of the four in this post. It is my prayer that this post will help you and that you just may begin using it yourself so that it helps you get through times of trial, temptation, affliction and tribulation.
I had not known this word until earlier this year in our Ladies Bible Study at Faith Lutheran Church. We had been studying Martin Luther’s short booklet on prayer when my dear friend, Sally, brought us an article about this as we were studying “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” section of the Lord’s Prayer. Each of us women sat there listening intently thinking of all those times when troubles assailed us. I could remember back to when my husband was battling cancer and how powerless I felt. As Sally was reading the article I thought of how it seemed the world was against us and yet, I found comfort knowing God as my Heavenly Father was caring for me. It would be this past semester when the word Anfechtung would be the only term to explain the struggle I would go through. I took comfort that Martin Luther’s famous hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God spoke of this and was encouraged with these words: