Friday, July 30, 2010


When someone is hurting, minister presence before precepts.

If you can imagine the worst possible scenario for your life, as unpleasant a thought as that might be, it will help understand this blog entry.  For some it might be death of a spouse or child.  For some it might be the call from the doctor saying it's cancer or terminal or over.  For others it's the boss' call with a pink slip and too-short severance offer and a thousand questions about how bills are going to get paid.

With that in mind, here are some affirmations that could be offered, based on the frame.  I use all of these, depending on the situation, for ministry and encouragement.  I hope this helps.

God hasn't changed.  He's still merciful and gracious to the hurting.  He's still just and righteous for the offended.  He's still sovereign over the questioning.  He's still the healer of the doubled-over.  He's still a safe strong tower for the fleeing.

This isn't how it's supposed to be.  Cancer wasn't God's original intention.  Injustice isn't God's plan.  Fatal car wrecks don't fit God's original design.  Betrayal shouldn't happen.  Devastation isn't "natural," in the best sense of that word.  Nothing works like it's supposed to work.  This kind of thinking allows us to enter into their suffering with sympathy and even empathy because we live in the same broken world too.  Words of comfort like, "I'm so sorry" and emotions that agree with their indignity, frustration, sadness, or shock are appropriate.

God knows what it's like.  Because the Savior suffered, He knows what it's like when you suffer.  You don't have a Great High Priest who is unsympathetic with your plight.  Because He's been through everything that you have and even worse, He can provide whatever help you need to get through it.  On a ministry note, a great encouragement to the suffering (when appropriate, not before) is to talk to God about it.  He can handle their honesty and actually finds it refreshing.  Should they be angry with Him, it's okay for them to tell Him that.  He's never done anything wrong to them such that they should be angry with Him, but if they are it's best for them to tell Him.

God's disposition toward you hasn't shifted.  Because eternal life of both the quantity and quality variety is still God's agenda, we can minister with confidence that His attitude toward the hurting is the same.  Jesus purchased that eternal life for all who have confidence in Him.  Should God's disposition toward His purchased one change, it would say that Jesus' sacrifice wasn't really sufficient.  Some people, when suffering or shocked, think that God got mad at them and sent this affliction.  Others mistake consequences of the Law of Sowing and Reaping as God's anger.  But no matter, God feels the same way about them as He did the day before they got the phone call.

A final note:  please don't take these affirmations as license to brutalize someone with bumper sticker sayings while they're crying.  Saying God works everything out to someone just might get you decked by a right hook, and rightly so.  Be sensitive.  Minister presence before precepts.  The framework is designed to give boundaries and a starting place to paint the portrait of God and ministry that needs to be painted for the hurting's sake, for Jesus' sake, and for the Kingdom.

1 comment:

  1. I have hung on your every word about the 4 part frame. I was reading it for my friend Jamie, who is about to deliver her baby girl, Hope and then bury her a few days later. She has a rare form of dwarfism, a disorder with a fatal diagnosis. We are getting ready to walk the road with her and her family. Then I found out my grandpa died today...just died in his sleep. So I'm re-reading it. Not that I question God AT ALL....I don't. Just find comfort in your words from His heart...Love you Trent.