The first time I read the opening declaration of James*, I was a new Christian:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,
whenever you face trials of many kinds . . . .”
I was terrified!
Even now, four decades later, when hit by the twists and turns of life, my first response is rarely to embrace hurt or disappointment with “joy.” Even so, I committed to live out the wisdom of James and determined to test the promise that follows his declaration::
“The testing of your faith produces perseverance,
and perseverance must finish its work so that
you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything,”
With that, I have embraced this truth:
“With every problem comes opportunity . . .
opportunity to trust God more.”
Of course this commitment has not only impacted my personal outlook, but also how I counsel others. From the onset, my goal in building a relationship with each Client has been based on my conviction that:
is more than fixing problems.
Biblical counseling should be about strengthening our relationship with the Shepherd of our hearts.
When people seek counsel, they often perceive God as being very distant and assume the worst of Him. To circumvent this, we rely on prayer and the Scriptures to bring God into every conversation that takes place in the Counseling Room. This “conversation” between God and Client continues as Clients are encouraged to do their Journey Notes outside of the Counseling Room two or three times a week. Those who follow through are the ones who do the best overall, as they learn to trust God not only with details of their lives but also their eternal future.
One passage that is a favorite with Clients is found in Isaiah 30. In it God urges His people to resist the temptation to run from their problems–but to run to Him instead. The passage begins with this prescription:
“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength. . . .”
Meant to calm the heart and mind, the passage goes on to acknowledge what we are more likely to do:
“. . . but you would have none of it.
You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
Therefore your pursuers will be swift
A thousand will flee
at the threat of one;
at the threat of five
you will all flee away,
till you are left
like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
like a banner on a hill.”
It then reassures us with this beautiful picture of a caring Shepherd:,
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for Him!
Did you catch that? “He will RISE UP to show you compassion.” A perfect illustration of God being ACTIVELY concerned when it comes to the lives of His children.
The passage continues, with this assurance of God’s faithfulness in seeing us through dark valleys, as it challenges us to reject the things we cling to instead of God:
“Although the Lord gives you
the bread of adversity and the water of affliction,
your teachers will be hidden no more . . . .
Whether you turn to the right or to the left,
your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,
“This is the way; walk in it.”
Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver
and your images covered with gold;
you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth
and say to them, “Away with you!”
No matter what we face, God calls us to come to Him with problems large and small. I especially love the encouragement of Jesus’s invitation to all,
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.”
It’s all true:
With every problem comes opportunity . . .
opportunity to trust and love God more.
How to begin? Give thanks to Him for His love and mercy as you rely on Him to provide the wisdom and perspective you lack.
So . . . what are you waiting for?!!!
All to His Glory!