I’m reading one of Samuel Rutherford’s letters each morning and am richly benefiting from it. What beautiful, powerful examples of pastoral care and counseling!
This morning I read his letter to Marion M’Naught from Anwoth, on July 21, 1630. Rutherford refers to the fact that she is suffering in some way due to her allegiance to the gospel, something not uncommon in those days. As I read Rutherford’s words, rich with biblical imagery and depth of insight, they made me think of faithful pastors walking through difficult times as church members oppose the word of God. I regularly speak with men in such situations and am in conversation with one now. How shall I encourage such men as they seek lovingly and patiently to lead people to the Scriptures only to be told, “I know that’s in the Bible but it won’t work,” or “I know the Bible says that but it won’t glorify God.” Those who have walked this valley know the heartache, the stomach churning and the anxiety not just for yourself and family but for the well-being of the people you are trying to serve. One brother invited critique saying he was simply trying to be faithful to the Bible and was told, “Well, that’s your problem.”
If you find yourself in a similar situation today, hear these words from Samuel Rutherford to one of his people almost four hundred years ago:
“Dear sister, do not faint; the wicked may hold the bitter cup to your head, but God mixeth it, and there is no poison in it. … I tell you, and I have it from Him before whom I stand for God’s people, that there is a decree given out, in the great court of the highest heavens, that your present troubles shall be dispersed as the morning cloud, and God shall bring forth your righteousness, as the light of the noontide of the day.”
“count much of your Master’s smiling.”
“patience, my beloved; Christ the King is coming home”
“my Master bade me tell you, God’s blessing shall be upon you for it; & from Him I say, Grace, grace, grace and everlasting peace be upon you. It is my prayer for you, that your carriage may grace and adorn the Gospel of that Lord who hath graced you.”
Hold fast, brothers, and show yourselves faithful that the Lord might bless you at his coming. Remember whose praise you seek. One smile from Him will outweigh all the scorn the world can give. My Master bade me tell you, He knows you and your situation (Psalm 1:6), He is with you (Matt 28:20), and it will be worth it all. “Christ the King is coming home.”