Counseling and the Shifting Sand of Circumstance
If you were called upon to counsel your closest friend in advance of a difficult circumstance, what would you say? Before you dismiss the possibility, let me assure you of two truths:
1. You are a counselor already.
2. Difficult circumstances are sure to come.
The “pressure” exerted by these difficulties demands decisions. Those decisions need wisdom.
…so your friend asks you for help in a difficult circumstance….it will happen…Will you be ready?
For example, let’s say a friend must drop their child off at the ex’s for the weekend–knowing that the ex is NOT a good influence for the child. They call you en route and ask for prayer…for wisdom…for hope. What will you say?
Indeed, what would be the content of the hope offered? Would the wisdom offered be rooted in the fixed character of God, or the shifting sand of circumstance? Can you “see” the difference in the two counsels below?
1. “Do not worry. God loves your child more than you and thus He will not allow any harm to come.”
2. “Do not worry. God is good, great, and wise. He does all things for His own glory–which is your child’s greatest good. Trust Him.”
The trouble with the first is both subtle and severe. It is subtle in that it is partially true….but it is not the entire truth. The truth is one-sided and partial truths elevated to position of sole truth become no truth. God does love your child, but God’s love is multifaceted and particular. He does not love everybody in exactly the same way; He loves His Son particularly, uniquely. God loves the saints in a way different than unbelievers. If the child is yet to cling to Christ for salvation, the first response is misleading. Moreover, the love of God does not prevent all suffering. Indeed, He loves His own so much that He uses suffering to kill the greater enemy of unbelief (sin, self-reliance, self-sufficiency, etc.).
To merely say, “Do not worry. God loves your child” leaves the subtle expectation (hope) that no harm will befall her/him. And if something bad did happen, well then, trust in God would be undermined. The first can easily become a hope in RESULTS or outcome.
The second is more sure. The second is rooted in the character of God. Since God does not change, hope in Him will NEVER be thwarted. To trust that God will glorify His name; to trust that God is sovereign over the ex-spouse and child (indeed over every electron); to trust that God cares (and thus wants eternal good–i.e., less unbelief and more faith); to trust that God knows what your child needs most, namely to honor and glorify Jesus–to have that trust MUST bring the soul peace, rest, HOPE!
Beloved, the next time you are called to counsel, please point the one seeking HOPE to God. Point your friends to the Person, Jesus Christ–and not to the shifting sand of circumstance.
10,000 Blessings in the Wonderful Counselor,