Sometimes Biblical Counseling is amazingly simple. I am not talking about the type of counsel that offers you a “take two verses and call me in the morning” approach. I am talking about Truths that are profound, and yet simple.
God’s Word is accessible to everyone with the ability to obtain a copy or access the internet. It is illuminated for us by the Holy Spirit. That means that someone who is born again can read their Bible and come to an understanding of the Scriptures. Some people tend to complicate matters by intellectualizing too much, analyzing too much, and scrutinizing too much. Of course an in-depth study of God’s Word is very important, but many times when we are helping someone to apply Biblical Truth to their struggle we might see more fruit if we don’t complicate our counsel.
Sometimes we’d do better just to keep it simple. One simple yet profound concept I love to teach those I am helping is this:
Take a look at your struggle (sin or suffering) and note how are you responding to it. How do you view it. Is your perspective Biblical? The world might call this “is your glass half empty, or is it half full”. Biblically let’s call it “do you view your problem as a struggle, or as an opportunity.” I like to simplify that even further by saying a short phrase to remind myself:
“struggle? OR opportunity?"
Struggles are a given in this life. There is no escape from them. Jesus does not call us to comfort, He calls us to pick up our cross and follow Him. Part of the Christian life is that we will have problems and struggles. When we go through life focused on our circumstantial hardships, we become discouraged, depressed, anxious, and exhausted. We are tempted to take matters in to our own hands and work and perform to earn God’s favor so that He will change our circumstances. How defeating! And how unbiblical!
1 Peter 5:10 “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
When we take our eyes off of our circumstances and instead look at Christ, our perspective changes to something much more Biblical. We are reminded, as the above Scriptures express, that our suffering is temporary. Not only that, He will take care of us in the struggle. We are reminded, too, that God always provides the means for endurance. And our attitudes can be changed as we pass the tests of faith. God is so good to us.
Our greatest example of viewing a struggle as an opportunity is our Savior. As He approached his death on the cross, He knew exactly what was coming. But for a brief moment, He did ask The Father to “remove this cup” from Him. No one has ever “struggled" like Jesus did on our behalf - and yet He knew this was an “opportunity” for salvation - our salvation. There never was and never will be a more difficult struggle nor a more amazing opportunity. It only took one time, and then it was finished.
Jesus’ way was the way of “opportunity.” Yes, it was hard (to say the least), but His eyes were not on His circumstances. His eyes were on His Father.
In my life, and I assume in yours if we are fellow strugglers in Christ, I have often been most helped by the simple Truths from God's Word. Here are a few of the struggles with sin and suffering that I and others have, with Jesus’ help, learned to view as opportunities:
*My anxiety is an opportunity to Trust God as He shows me His sovereignty over my circumstances.
*My depression is an opportunity to let God’s Word work actively in my heart to change my perspective and learn more about Him along the way.
*My insecurity is an opportunity to remember that without Christ I am nothing. In Him, I have everything I need. I have a new identity.
*My fears are opportunities for God to prove Himself completely safe and trustworthy.
*My illness is an opportunity to seek God more in His Word because I have more time while I rest.
*My financial setback is an opportunity to let God use others to provide for our needs as they offer help.
*My sin struggles are an opportunity to know God’s grace is real, and to see Him work in my heart as I am reminded of my need for a Savior.
*My stress is an opportunity to come to the end of myself so that I can rest in Jesus alone, rather than my own efforts.
What would you add to this list?
A good Biblical Counselor will walk you through much more teaching on the issues of the heart related to your struggle. But before you make that counseling appointment, stop and consider what you are going through and ask yourself this simple counseling question:
“Do I see this problem only as a struggle, or can I instead see it as an opportunity.” Be honest, God already knows your heart. If you can’t get past the view of the problem as only a struggle, call on a wise counselor or mentor to walk you through some heart change. If you view it as an opportunity, you may decide that you still need someone’s help to sort out exactly what kind of opportunity it is, or your “opportunity perspective” may be enough to help you to move forward as you approach your sin or suffering Biblically.
Simple counsel can often be enough to get your thinking back on the Biblical track. It’s a very good start in any case!
What problems of sin and suffering are you viewing only as struggles today? What opportunities might they hold?
If you are in need of help, we would be glad to connect you with an experienced Biblical Counselor at www.wordofhopeministries.com