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How Can Christian Counseling Help My Relationship with God?

Have you ever had a friend who seemed to know you better than you know yourself? Someone who could see right through you when you said, “I’m okay. Everything is fine”? Did that friendship enable you to feel vulnerable and safe in a way that few others have? That type of friendship brings healing to our souls.

Now, I want you to imagine taking that level of familiarity up a notch better yet, take it up 1,000 notches. Now we are talking about someone who does know you better than you know yourself. Now, we are talking about not only One who is familiar with you because of time spent together and years gone by now we are talking about the One who planted the very dreams you hold close to your heart, the One who knows the number of hairs upon your head (even after you’ve washed it and brushed it out).

Now we are speaking of the One who created you designed you purposefully with intention and great attention to detail. Do you think such a friend would be able to understand you, encourage you, correct you, listen to you, weep with you as you weep and mourn with you as you mourn? This may sound far-fetched, but if you have a relationship with God, you likely know this to be the truth about your life.

As a Christian who happens to be a counselor, I can tell you firsthand that there’s something inexplicable about the therapy process when the Holy Spirit is invited into it. There are clients who do not have a relationship with God; there are some who know about God, but they don’t yet live their lives in a way that reflects a dependency on, and desperation for Him every day.

There are also some who believed at one time in their lives, but because of wounds inflicted by this world, they have decided to “take a break” from God doubting that He is truly for them instead of against them. People may experience significant growth and healing in therapy without the acknowledged help of the Holy Spirit; but I believe He is working on their behalf and beckoning to them without them realizing that “every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17).

In my experience, people who are trusting in the Lord throughout the therapy process seem to experience deeper healing and greater growth than those who do not know the Lord. Something supernatural happens in the process of surrendering and humbling ourselves; admitting that we are weak and incapable of solving all our problems in our own strength, and inviting God to show up and show-off on our behalf.

It is in these times that we are reminded of our great needs and God reminds us that we have a great God to meet those needs. We can only do so much on our own. We can only muster so much strength, access a limited amount of wisdom, retain a certain amount of knowledge and don’t even get me started on what it takes to regulate our emotions! A person can wear themselves out by trying to accomplish mental, emotional, and spiritual growth in their own strength alone.

Let’s look at some verses from the Bible that demonstrate God’s heart towards helping us and not leaving us to fend for ourselves

Since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  – Hebrews 4:14-16

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30

Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. – Psalm 50:15

Not only is God accessible to us to help us through difficult times, but he has personally experienced those hard times through the person of Jesus Christ. Moreover, because God is always with us and involved in our lives, he is experiencing pain with us as we experience it in real time.

As a counselor, I want to know the authority I have been given through the living Word of God, to call upon God to be exactly who he says he is. When we invite him into the counseling process, we are exercising our faith and proclaiming that we will do as much as we can possibly do in our own human strength, and then we will rely on God to show up and be who he is on our behalf.

God has given us this mysterious recipe that works for the benefit of our lives, and it is this: Faith + Works. It’s not just works how much we can do on our own and it’s not just faith expecting God to do ALL the work. It is the combination of us doing as much as we can and trusting God to take us the rest of the way because we are incapable of doing so ourselves.

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus, also faith by itself, it if does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works, faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. – James 2:14-26

When a person enters counseling to change their life, they are putting forth work. When a person enters counseling to change their life and is inviting the Holy Spirit power of God into the process that is combining faith and works. For some reason (and it does seem to be improving a bit) there has been this strange stigma in the Christian culture, concerning counseling.

Some will say, “The Bible has all you need; why would you need a counselor?” or “Psychology is evil and secular; just have enough faith and pray your way through this issue.” While I can understand the sentiment behind such statements (aka “rely on God and work this out yourself”; seemingly faith + works) there is a massive flaw in this type of reasoning.

Yes, many aspects of secular psychology are in opposition to Christianity, but there is room for integrating skills and proven techniques for mental wellness, while strengthening our relationship with the Lord, as opposed to weakening or threatening it.

For example, if you have been diagnosed with cancer, you can certainly activate your faith and press into God as much as possible, by praying for and having others pray for God to heal you of the cancer. Sometimes this is his will, and he will heal you!

However, more often the case is that God is walking you through something and refining your faith in him, and while he is doing this, he wants you to get up and go to doctor appointments to receive physical healing, while he heals your spirit during this trial.

God has gifted specific people on this planet to utilize skills and talents that he has given them, to work for the good of others and to glorify himself, as those who are created in his image exercise the gifts and talents he has given them.

There is so much to unpack concerning this topic, but for whatever reason, God has decided that in many cases, he wants to use his human beings to move and act in ways that will result in his will being done. We see this all throughout the bible, as God could easily snap his fingers and accomplish anything he wants, yet, he knows that it’s going to do something spiritual for us when we participate in his plan.

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we though many, are one body in Christ and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. – Romans 12:4-8

Thus far, we have discussed that putting forth personal effort is required; trusting God in the process is needed; and working together with others may, at times, be essential. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this before, but God is very big on community.

It started in the very beginning when he created Adam and then said, “it is not good for man to be alone” so he then created Eve. God himself, is not even alone Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit all reside together in One. We have also seen above, that God will often choose to demonstrate his power in our lives, by using other people.

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel. – Proverbs 27:9

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2

Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:16

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. – Matthew 18:20

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. – Romans 1:11-12

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:24-25

It is an unspeakable privilege for me to share in the lives of my clients not just discussing what isn’t currently working well in life, unhealed wounds, and painful pasts but also celebrating what is going well, what has been achieved, and reflecting on the faithfulness of God throughout it all.

If you are struggling in any area of your life and you either have faith that God is for you and with you in the midst of it—or if you’re questioning the above, please reach out to a Seattle Christian Counselor today so that we can join you on this journey and by the grace of God, somehow tap into a gift, resource, or knowledge, that he has generously given us to be used for your good.

Photos:
“Holding the Bible”, Courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Prayer”, Courtesy of Rosie Fraser, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Tough Times”, Courtesy of Ben White, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Mountain Ridge”, Courtesy of Todd Quackenbush, Unsplash.com, CC0 License


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Maryann Stigen

Maryann Stigen
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