Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

Weep With Those Who Weep . . .

In Other Words . . .

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 31 March 2009

"For most of this century we have wrongly defined soul wounds as psychological disorders and delegated their treatment to trained specialists. Damaged psyches aren't the problem. The problem is disconnected souls."

"Counseling" is an often-used word today, but what do we really understand of it from a Biblical perspective?

The Book of Job is rich with lessons on suffering, but one of the greatest lessons that we can apply to the church body is that of how to counsel and how not to counsel those who are hurting. There are a great number of counselors that actually do more harm than good! If you've studied the Book of Job, you know that Job had to take some time to "recover" from his friends’ “counseling” techniques. And that recovery only came after Job forgave and prayed for his counselors. (Job 42:10)

Let's revisit Job's counselors. They started out with wonderful technique: They wept. They mourned. They sat with Job in the dirt, in shocked grief -- speechless, for seven long days.

When they saw him, they began to weep aloud…
they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

Job 2:12-13

Job's "counselors" might have done well to just
pack up their stuff and leave at this point because . . .

Sadly, like so many of us today, they became impatient and instead of filling their divinely appointed role of comforter, they chose the world’s preferred alternative of claiming godlike knowledge. They focused their efforts on becoming superior-advice-giving-therapists, rather than comforting and counseling their friend as a peer.

Like Job's friends, we also tire of being in the dirt with our hurting, depressed, and often-irritable sisters and brothers. We want to dust ourselves off and show that we’re above that sort of thing.

We refer our hurting friends to secular therapists and best-seller books. We rely less and less on God and our divinely appointed role as comforters and defer to a therapeutic culture -- A culture that looks beneath every hurt, every pain and every struggle in life and finds some psychological disorder that needs repair -- and more often than not: a pill.

What’s really going on (in far more cases than we'd care to admit) is a soul crying out for what only Jesus Christ can provide. We need to quit relying on professionals to fix damaged “psyches” because . . .

The real problem is disconnected human souls. See . . . the church body is designed to “grow and build itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:16) Just as spiritual gifts are to be used for the entire church body – so is its capacity to listen, understand, empathize, and nourish.

It works like this: If you’ve ever received comfort from God – no matter how small - you have something in you that could deeply impact someone else who is hurting.

. . . the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
~II Corinthians 1:4

You -- as part of the Body of Christ -- are able to comfort and encourage the lonely, revitalize the discouraged, and introduce hope into the lives of people who feel rejected and useless. Even if you yourself feel rejected and useless. Look at Jesus' life on earth for inspiration. He is – after all - the Wonderful Counselor. (Isaiah 9:6) . . .

He was the Son of the God of the Universe! -- yet he was humiliated his entire life. He was despised and rejected. (Isaiah 53:3) He was physically vulnerable, weak, tempted, subject to pain, and as the final disgrace, rejected by God. (Matt. 27:46) We see him tired, thirsty, in tears, impoverished, ridiculed. Scripture stresses that the thing that equipped Jesus for his ministry was that he became like those he was called to help.

Today, we’ve somehow established that only those exalted to godlike status holding PhD’s or M.A.'s or LMFT's are empowered to minister and counsel. Nothing could be further from the truth! Even, the most renowned Christian counselors have said that they are only able to truly help people when they put aside their academic training and rely upon the Lord to direct them. And isn’t this what each of us is called to do?

Much heartache could be averted in the body of Christ if we could learn to “weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

. . . Not necessarily shedding liquid tears, but unashamedly embrace the pain of others, and let it be obvious that “if one part of the body suffers, every part suffers with it.” (I Cor.12:26)

It’s a huge shift in thinking, but the greatest need for the hurting and depressed in our community is not to have more counseling centers or psychotherapists or support groups, but a church body where Christ is exalted and ordinary people learn to shepherd the hurting because, Biblically speaking, simply being a friend, confidant, and sympathizer, is a lofty role that not even the angels or God Himself can fully fill.

Only we, for example, can give a hug or share coffee with a hurting friend. People in pain need to know that they are not alone - they need people with whom they can relate. They don’t need advice as much as they need company and comfort.

Advice is cheap.
Comfort is precious.

~ Esthermay Bentley-Goossen
© 2009 The Heart of a Pastor's Wife









20 comments:

Michelle Bentham said...

Hey Esthermay... I will be back to read your post after I finish editing mine.

Blessings.

Denise said...

Awesome quote, and very awesome post my friend.

Michelle Bentham said...

Esthermay...

I've seen something different in your writing today - less edgy and more... well, soft. Something beautiful.

This quote has been an excellent consideration for me. I experienced just what you shared this weekend. As an altar minister obviously the hurting come to us in droves. And one such woman who came forward was aching over the death of her father. We did pray together and submit her pain and her wounds to the Lord, but mostly we just talked. She shared her struggles over her father's death and I shared the ones I had overcome when Justin died. Before long we were smiling and laughing with one another. We prayed and it seemed we could've stayed in that moment much longer than we did. I made a new friend that night. One I can walk the path with and one I long to see walking in victory in the days ahead.

Thanks for, as always, pressing me to think, to relate and to respond.

Blessings.

Kim@Seasons of My Heart said...

WOW...what a powerful...powerful post.

I TOTALLY agree that each of us, have the ability to counsel others. I have learned through the many, many trials and hardships in my life....that out of those ashes, God created great beauty as he's used me to minister to others.

I'm such a HUGE believer in the fact that God LONGS for us....his body to be SO in tune to him...that all we do...is THAT which we see our Heavenly Father do!

Blessings to you sweet friend.

mamas*little*treasures said...

Such an inspiring quote! Thank you so much. It is so clear when we encounter hurting people - we all need to connect with another human being. It's like I've heard before, that we need Jesus "with skin on." We all need to be carried occasionally, and your observations about the secular mentality that the ONLY thing we need is professional counseling . . . . that is helpful, but without meeting the true needs of wounded souls, it is only a temporary "fix." Thanks for sharing today. Nina

Karen said...

Terrific ending to a great post.

MiPa said...

Comfort is indeed precious. Thank you for hosting us this week and for choosing a quote to make us think! Have a blessed day.

Susan said...

Oh wow, this was just incredible.

I'm so sorry I could be a part today.

Thank God for the body of Christ and those like you who are willing to be poured out for others.

Blessings to your my precious friend♥

Laurie Ann said...

Very powerful post! Your compassion is just precious, Esthermay. Great quote to write on, too! I'm so glad you hosted today with this quote. Thanks so much.

CHOCOLATE AND COFFEE said...

Awesome post Esthermay! You are such a gifted writer.

I am thankful that I have the opportunity to pray with others and show them that God does love them and deeply cares about them.

Thanks for hosting today.

Blessings!

Barbara said...

First - I understand InOtherWords now that see that little sign-up sheet on your blog. very neat

Wonderful words of wisdom here, Esthermay. Do you know we have a little book in the narthex of our church that is a "Counseling Directory." You look up your problem in the book say "marital problems" or "anorexia" and then you find the counselor in the area who specializes in that. So many times after church there are staff pastors using it to "help" people. It is maddening to the older folks in our church who see past the pyschotherapy craze in this country. God has given his Church this responsibility not the crazy therapists in the world who would just like to make us a Prozac Nation.
Where's your printable version today????

kalopoieo said...

Amen. Great discernment here. It is a difficult thing to advocate against the psychotherapy way of life. The Church-age has given way to a post-modern world that will do anything to avoid God's Word. Larry Crabb's book = excellent. I highly recommend it.

LauraLee Shaw said...

Absolutely 100 percent gold here. You wrote this beautifully.

Through my whole childhood, I lived with the pain of abuse and the heartache of a physically and mentally disabled mother. You wouldn't believe the number of people who offered words of worldly counsel when all we needed was a prayer or a Word of Scripture. Those believers that cried with us, prayed over us, met our physical needs were the ones that my soul is thankful for today.

And now, as an adult, I find myself with a constant burden for the hurting. It's heavy oftentimes, but I am compelled to comfort those with the Hope of the comfort I was given for so many years.
Often, I find myself wanting to counsel based on my own experience, and sometimes the Lord leads me to do so. But more often than not, I just pray and listen, adding my tears to their puddle.

Cannot tell you how much this post touched me. I'm going to go back to my post today and link to this at the bottom. I'm assuming you won't mind, but if you do, just let me know, and I'll remove it.

Much love, dear sister,
lalee

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

I appreciate so much your emphasis on comfort. We all need comforted now and then...not counseled or preached to, although those things have their place...just comforted. Thank you for your inspiring words and also the opportunity to ponder this quote.

Kate said...

This is so excellent on so many levels. If I go on, I'll get you in trouble for causing controver. on your comment page, but I so wish my family had known the Truth of God's Word when Iwas a teenager. Instead, we beleived the lies that Satan disguises as "truth" in churches and went the whole psychotherapy and drugs/antidepressants/lithium road. HOW WRONG! For me and millions of others out there. God have mercy on the Christians who send a hurting friend to a counselor to get drugs when all they need is the comfort of almighty God via a comforting friend.
Excellent excellent excellent words.
~K

Joan said...

"A culture that looks beneath every hurt, every pain and every struggle in life and finds some psychological disorder that needs repair -- and more often than not: a pill."

That would be funny if it were not so sad.

I love how you ended this post.
Comfort is precious. Yes - if we could all just learn how to do it.

writingcanvas said...

Thank you so much for hosting today and for your words with this quote. Sometimes we wonder why we go through things, but yet when given opportunities to "weep with those that weep" . . . to see the unity and joy that can come from it, and being able to share Jesus, sure helps BOTH the grievers! Thanks again for sharing . . . Loni

PS. . . sorry I did not join yours . . . I've had an extra 3 year old here today . . . and a busy day!

Patricia said...

This is absolutely beautiful post. If only more Christians would hear this message and take it to heart. Thank you for sharing it.

Alleluiabelle said...

I am a newcomer to your blog site, but I can tell you this, you touched me deeply with this post. You touched to the very core of me. I received so much from this in ways you will never know. I will definitely be returning back here to visit you. I am blessed to have come across your site.

God bless you for who you are and what you write about.

Alleluiabelle

staceyhoff said...

what a true word in due season. wish there were more christians like this :(

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