“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled,
nor let it be fearful.”
~ John 14:27
When people seek counseling they almost invariably come with two problems. First, they have the problem that has troubled them – probably for quite some time -- for which they want a solution.
But their second (often more pronounced) problem is the depressed, distressed, agitated attitude they have toward their problem: the frayed and burdened feelings they have about the problem that blocks their reasoning power and reduces them to a very narrow and rigid view of the problem.
A good counselor knows that there is no use trying to address the person’s initial problem until you first solve the obvious problem they present: Themselves!
They need to be taught how to have peace. If and when they can approach the initial problem with a sense of peace, the dilemma unravels itself.
This peace that Jesus gives is what a good counselor might well describe as "the ability to cope."
Yet, sadly, one of the spirituality-coated social phenomena of our culture is the self-help movement, wherein peace with ourselves and our circumstances and our past and our future is found miraculously in human achievement. And way too often, when the self-help route takes too long, we resort to other measures like drugs -- prescription and otherwise.
The self-help movement preserves the notion that somewhere and somehow there are secret powers out there that when honed can -- and do -- develop hidden abilities to bring us into a new and higher level of life and experience and spirituality. . .
I will say this straight-up: As a Christian counselor, I very much dislike the whole self-help movement.
See, as long we remain in and of the world and apart from Jesus, we will never know the remarkable secret of HIS peace! Apart from Jesus, peace is just another humanistic pursuit. We spend valuable time and resources searching for and learning techniques and secrets and in the pursuit, are led farther and farther away from the real thing!
Peace is the bequest of Jesus to His followers – the inheritance of true Christians. Without HIM, we can only resort to self-help; and it is a pathetic substitution for the real thing.
Q: How does the world give peace?
A: The self-help movement is a given. And at the risk of being labeled judgmental and narrow-minded and other colorful things, (I've certainly already alienated the self-help crowd) I’m just going to say it: Prescription drugs.
We’re all familiar with the scenario: If/when we are altogether upset over something to the point of being unable to function normally – we probably visit our family doctor for help. It’s just the way we’ve learned to do things in our culture. We ask the doctor for help and he probably gives us some Zanax or Valium or Klonapin or Librium -- chemical peace!
But it wears off. And we’re right back where we were before we took the pill. We have to take more until our mind is dulled and we are half-sedated. This is how the world gives peace.
Oh! Absolutely there are situations where pharmaceuticals are warranted. There aren't too many Christian counselors that have a zero-tolerance policy toward prescription drugs. We do live in a fallen world. But understand: Pharmaceuticals are the WORLD's way to give peace. Not God's!
Now consider the peace and serenity He possessed and realize fully what he says . . .
In other words:
"The peace I possess, I want to give to YOU."
The peace that "passes understanding" is ours because a part of the Triune God of the Universe dwells IN us. And that Spirit in us is able to handle and overcome every external problem in this world . . . . We have complete and TRUE PEACE.
© 2009 The Heart of a Pastor's Wife