Martha was distraught, brokenhearted. Martha was to Jesus what your hurting friend is to you. How can we respond when our friend is undone? When our neighbor despairs? When the woman in the funeral limousine thinks God has forgotten her? What do we do?
Here is what Jesus did. He looked Martha in the face and said these starchy words: “I am the resurrection and the life. . . . Do you believe this?” (vv. 25–26 NLT).
The Bible’s word for such a response is admonishment. “Admonish one another,” Paul told us (Rom. 15:14).
Admonishment is high-octane encouragement. The word literally means “putting in mind.”1 To admonish is to deposit truth into a person’s thoughts. It might take the form of discipline, encouragement, or affirmation. It may be commendation or correction. Above all, admonishment is truth spoken into a difficult circumstance. It inserts the chlorine tablet of veracity into the algae of difficulty.
Admonishment speaks up.
Yes, we hold the hand of the struggler. Yes, we bring water to the thirsty. Yes, we prepare a meal for the hungry. And yes, yes, yes, we speak words of truth into moments of despair.
Dare we sit idly by while Satan spreads his lies? By no means! Unsheathe God’s sword, the Word of God, and brandish its glimmering blade in the face of evil. “Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God. . . . And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:10–11, 17 ASV).
When you read or quote a scripture in the face of pain or doubt or evil, you activate a weapon of the Spirit. It is as if a blade of God slashes against the rope of the Devil, and his prisoners are released. “His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what” (Heb. 4:12–13 THE MESSAGE).
Scripture-based admonishment is like antibacterial cream. We may not know how it heals a wound; we just know it does.
Apply it and see what happens. Make it your practice to say, “I know a verse in the Bible that might help.”
Max Lucado, How Happiness Happens: Finding Lasting Joy in a World of Comparison, Disappointment, and Unmet Expectations (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2019).
We have just released a new Bible study the book How Happiness Happens. These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.