By Rick Thomas
Have you ever wondered why you do the things you do? Have you ever wanted to change the way you are? Sometimes the counselor will provide simplistic answers like, trust God, let go and let God, or you need to repent. In most cases these cliché type answers are not helpful. In some situations they do more harm than good.
No counselor should make change the only possibility for a person who desires a more preferred iteration of themselves. That kind of hope is not in the counselor’s toolbox or within his ability to accomplish. What the counselor should suggest is that regardless of what you may be going through, there is grace for your situation (2 cor. 12:9).
This kind of counseling advice fits well within the biblical counselor’s offerings for the discouraged soul. If the LORD is your starting point and the Bible is your filter for working through your problems, then you are in the best possible place to figure out why you are the way you are or why do what you do. Think about this for a moment: there is an element of mystery to our problems. Can a grasshopper discern the ways of a man? Can finite man understand the ways of infinite God? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. – Isa. 40:22 (EVS).
If you are not comfortable with an element of mystery when it comes to your problems, then you will never be comfortable with your problems. Where were you when God laid the foundations of the earth (Job 38:4)? Problems are related to sin - I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart. Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? – 1 Cor. 1:19-20 (EVS).
It is good for the LORD to make things simple by placing them on the bottom shelf for us. Though we might not like the idea of admitting our ignorance, there is freedom and strength in embracing our weaknesses (2 Cor. 4:7).
The main thing - Every person comes into the world with specific sinful tendencies. It is as random as there are people. This is why the gay guy can say, “I was born this way.” Maybe he was born that way. I was born with my own weaknesses, shortcomings, and sinful proclivities. Everybody is born that way. To say, “I was born that way” is merely affirming the Bible’s declaration, for all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23).
I do not argue with the gay guy, who says he was born that way. I agree with him. The impasse comes when he uses his brokenness as an excuse to stay broken. He misses the point of the Gospel, which is transformation. Process of elimination • The LORD permitted Joni Eareckson Tada to be a quadriplegic. • The LORD permitted me [Rick] to be divorced. • The LORD permitted William Cowper to struggle with depression all his life. • The LORD permitted His Son to die on a cross (Isa. 53:10).
Sometimes the LORD will give us unalterable problems. The four issues I listed above are physical, relational, spiritual, and sacrificial–in that order. • All of them were unalterable. • All of them were related to sin. • All of them were the will of God. • All of them were for God’s glory. We must factor in these possibilities.
Typically when we think about our problems we do not consider the possibility of God’s will being contrary to our preferences (Luke 22:42). The way you discern if your situation is unchangeable is by eliminating all the other possibilities. Many times a counselee will plead ignorance as to why they are depressed and then as you unpack their lives, according to some of the questions above, you realize he is more culpable than he is admitting or more than he is aware.
If he is serious about changing, then he needs to address each item. If he has done this and is living honestly before God and others, it could be he will always be tempted toward depression. At this point you would want to begin counseling him regarding God’s all-sufficient grace for an unchangeable situation. It could be the LORD wants to magnify Himself through weakness.
Call to action • What is one thing or an area of your life you would like to change? • Do you believe it can change? Why did you answer the way you did? • What needs to happen for the LORD to be glorified through your weaknesses? RickThomas.net