It started this past fall. Friends had told me about a struggling young woman who occasionally showed up at our church. Professing faith in Christ yet full of doubt, anger and self-recrimination, I began to pray . . . .
When I finally did meet Sonia (not her real name) I appreciated her honesty in expressing her struggles and was slightly intimidated by the intensity of her passion. Most of all, I was impressed by Sonia’s goal for counseling:
“To be healthy, happy, whole
even as she lamented, “PEACE is what I want–and do not have.”
Seeing that she had left a question blank on the Intake Form all Clients fill out before our first meeting, “Do you have a favorite saying?”, I recommended a favorite I use when I’m struggling,
“THANK YOU, GOD, THAT YOU LOVE ME.”
With every Session that followed, Sonia unfolded her story of heartache, disappointment and resentment. Week after week we dove into the Scriptures:
- To see God as a merciful Shepherd in both the Old and New Testaments.
- To gain wisdom and perspective into how God uses the hard things in life to draw us closer to Himself.
- To talk about how pride and resentment separate us from God, and how humility before God brings us peace.
As we searched, Sonia appeared appreciative of what the Scriptures said, but invariably every Session ended with this roadblock:
“Why would God allow me to suffer the pain of hurt and rejection,
if He is truly a loving God?”
Sometimes reframing a question can be the biggest help to moving toward a solution. In Sonia’s case, we began to look at why she blamed God for her suffering, when it was people who had sinned against her. We turned to Genesis to consider the first instances of blameshifting:
“And God said, ‘Who told you that you were naked?
Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?’
The man said, ‘The woman YOU put here with me—
SHE gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”’*
We then talked about how, as Christians, we are to break old sinful patterns by going to God in confession and in faith. We turned to the New Testament for direction and Sonia began to read:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,
set your hearts on things above, where Christ is . . . .
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:
sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed . . . .
You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.
But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things
as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language . . . .
Colossians 3: 1, 5-7
We talked about the beauty of humility before God and the ugliness of pride. We considered the example given to us by Jesus, as in humility He bore our sins rather than shifting what was due us from Himself:
“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the Cross,
so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;
‘by His wounds you have been healed.'”
I Peter 2:24
Sonia continued to read, more softly in tone as we drank in each word:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness,
humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other and forgive one another . . .
forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And over all these virtues put on love,
which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:12, 13b-14
I told Sonia that every time I heard that passage read, the deep rumble of closet doors being opened sounded in my head and I imagined beautiful robes of “compassion, kindness, humility’, gentleness, patience and love” waiting to be taken out and worn–to cleanse our hearts and make us whole.
As Sonia read the concluding piece of the Colossians passage it was as if the words had come alive,
“Let the PEACE OF CHRIST rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body you were called to PEACE.
And BE THANKFUL.
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly
as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom
through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit,
singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
GIVING THANKS to God the Father through Him.”
As the room was engulfed by quiet, I wondered if the Scriptures had ministered to Sonia’s heart as they had to my own. There was nothing left to be said so I asked her to close us in prayer. I remember little of Sonia’s prayer except for these heartfelt words:
“THANK YOU GOD THAT YOU LOVE ME.
THANK YOU FOR SENDING YOUR SON
TO SAVE ME FROM MYSELF . . .
No matter where you’ve been in your life, God has a plan of blessing for all who come to Him through Christ in humble faith. As I have chosen this path of humility in the most difficult of times–as well as in seasons of ease–He has proved Himself to be faithful.
May His Peace be your greatest gift this Christmas as you pray,
“Thank You God that you love me . . .
help me to love others as You have loved me .”
All to His Glory!