In my post, More Than a Bible Study . . . . I wrote in the hope of encouraging you to go deeper in your own walk as you help friends or acquaintances with their problems. Using the guidelines developed over 30 years of helping people face various challenges in the Counseling Room, my goal is to help you:
- To go to God, asking Him to “direct the path of our conversation” as you begin your meetings–thanking Him for joining you.
- To listen well to your friend, asking good questions that communicate caring.
- Bring God into the center of the helping process, by seeking hope and direction in the Scripture.
- To finish your time together with prayer:
- Encouraging your friend to pray first–if they are at all willing.
- Thank God for meeting with you.
- Pray for wisdom and strength to implement what He has shown you in Scripture and through your discussion.
What inspired this post was a call from a friend asking for insight in helping a young woman facing potentially dangerous marital difficulties. I promised to pray and as I did remembered a lesson I learned early while working in the Counseling Room:
When SIN/ EVIL rears its head in relationships,
it is generally ugly but sometimes masquerades as good.
At times we choose to ignore it for a variety of reasons,
but evil is real and it is a mistake to be naive about it.
Thankfully, the Bible is full of wisdom from God
to help us deal with SIN.
That is why He gave us His Word, the Bible. It is a powerful resource for gaining His perspective on sin–He hates it. Ephesians 6:10-17 is especially helpful as it talks about the on-going spiritual battle being waged between God’s goodness and the spiritual forces of evil:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God,
so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world and
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
After praying for the young woman facing a potentially dangerous situation, these are some of the thoughts I shared with my friend the following day–a prescription of sorts:
- Stop making excuses for the sin involved–psychological or otherwise. Address what has been happening by its proper, God-given, name: SIN. It’s hurtful and evil; it offends God and therefore should offend us. (This is not meant to ignore psychological issues–I am grateful for those dedicated to helping in the psych area. The intent here is to simplify helping from a biblical perspective.)
- To begin, have her read Ephesians 6:10-17 aloud: Ask her what things especially stand out to her, then trust God to build from there.*
- Prayerfully advise her to contact legal counsel (and in this case, consider hiring a private detective) to gain clarity and wisdom. (I rarely have done this in my Counseling experience, but when the situation is tenuous and also involves a child–which in this case it did–seeking legal counsel is needed to navigate already troubled waters.)
- The key to dealing with evil is to resist giving way to fear; that’s why staying in Scripture is so important. I recommend doing Journey Notes Praise Journaling to help her stay strong as she follows in Christ’s Steps.
Another place that offers the light of hope during dark times is in Psalm 139. Reading it is like walking into a cathedral as it reminds us that God is BIG–and we are exceedingly small. As I read the first twelve verses, I can imagine light filtering in through stained glass window as every minuscule sound echoes His Holiness:
“You have searched me, Lord,
and You know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
You, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and You lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your Presence?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there Your Hand will guide me,
Your Right Hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to You;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to You.”
What Scripture(s) have you found helpful during a difficult time? Please share the passage and how it helped you to encourage other readers who may be facing difficulty. (Many thanks!)
All to His Glory!
*Psalms 34 through 40 and 139 are all extremely helpful during seasons where hope is scarce as evil appears to have the upper hand. Doing Journey Notes is a great way to discover there are plenty more.