In Part One of this topic we looked at background as to what might contribute to the unbiblical beliefs regarding suffering at the hands of others. In Part Two, we will explore the beginnings of helping our counselee formulate a biblical response to personal injustice.
Suffering injustice is the heat in a person’s life that God is using to uncover their heart, how they think and what they want. Being sinned against is often used by God to reveal the believer’s heart and remake them in ever greater Christ-likeness. However, since it is both trial and testing (James 1) we are vulnerable to sinful responses when we do not humble ourselves and believe God’s promises in an obeying way.
It has been said that God transforms us and teaches us how to become more like Christ in the context of relationships. If that is indeed true, then the counselee suffering injustice must reverse their thinking away from what is being done to us and must begin to focus on what the injustice is revealing about us. “God may be using his or her imperfections, differences, weaknesses, and sins to teach us valuable lessons on how to forgive, how to forbear, how to have self-control, how to speak the truth in love, and how to love our enemies.” Whenever someone does something that we feel is persecution, our minds immediately react or respond. We react in the same way that our leg jumps during a routine physical examination when the rubber mallet hits the end of our knee. Thus, the phrase “knee-jerk reaction.” Reactions appear to be automatic. They happen quickly. We don’t think, we simply react. While the counselee may believe that the injustice they are experiencing makes them behave in this way, the truth is that it is a choice. We do what we want to do. Unfortunately, much of our reaction has become habitual. It is difficult to learn to respond because we have developed such a pattern of reacting. Reacting is careless and uncaring,” There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18). Rash words are merely a symptom of a heart that desires to retaliate when sinned against.
A biblical response, however, is the result of the Christian practicing 1 Peter 1, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16, emphasis mine). The difference between whether we react or respond is not only in the preparation of our hearts, but also our perception of the oppressor, who, if a Christian, has also been created an image of God and is being transformed more and more into the image of Christ.
Romans 12 reminds us that we overcome evil with good and, that good is when we choose to respond to oppression with godliness and righteousness. “God always responds to our wrongdoings in ways that are ultimately for our good, even though his strategies may seem harsh. Sometimes they involve letting us go for a while to learn from our mistakes. At other times he allows us to suffer so that we learn obedience. Or he might directly discipline or rebuke us. God’s response is always directed toward our good. His goal is to move us toward personal repentance, restoration, and reconciliation of our relationship with him.”
God’s precepts and commands do not come with the caveat that if we don’t feel like obeying them, we don’t have to. “The wisdom of God says something different, namely, that we can act ourselves in a new way of feeling much quicker than we can feel ourselves into a new way of acting.”
In the final segment of this topic, we will look at the common mindsets of the counselee and some basic principles for help.