The Imperatives of Suffering
When Christians suffer, they need the indicatives, the facts of the gospel. They need to know the promises of God, the benefits of being in Christ, and the reality of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Those truths are our comfort when we are wounded, slandered, or tempted.
But suffering believers also need the imperatives, the commands. Yes, we need to know the objective truths of the gospel. But we also need to know what to do with our hands and our hearts and our minds in the meantime. And we find in these imperatives sure footing for difficult times, a clear statement of God’s will when we don’t intuitively know what to do.
• But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44 ESV)
• Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV)
• Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (James 1:2-3 ESV)
• Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. (James 5:13 ESV)
• But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:14-16 ESV)
• In your counseling and care, don’t neglect the imperatives!
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