Why have psychological theories and therapies become so popular in the church? Why do Christians automatically turn to the psychological wisdom of men when they are experiencing problems of living and emotional turmoil? Perhaps one of the reasons is that we do not comprehend the wisdom of God through the process of suffering.
In the depths of depression and despair God seems so very far off. When circumstances storm around and through us and we feel overwhelmed and when those feelings grip us with fear, we may feel abandoned by God and thus turn to other means of help. When we are overcome by the magnitude of our own sin, our guilt may cloud the facts of Gods provision for forgiveness and cleansing.
It is during those times of deep suffering and confusion that we are tempted to turn to the idols of the world in the same way that the Israelites turned to the idols of the nations when God seemed far off and they felt overwhelmed by war and famine. But when anyone despairs of God in the midst of suffering and thereby turns to psychological theories and therapies, they not only lose out on the possibility of spiritual growth but they postpone the real help that God both promises and provides.
God is a very present help in time of need even when He seems far off. His Word is filled with hope, truth, and guidance. God works directly in us through His Living Word:
God knows us through and through. He is the only one who can see into the depths of our very being and who truly knows what we are experiencing. He is the only one who can change the inner man to conform us to the image of Christ even in the midst of suffering.
Jesus Himself experienced the greatest suffering of all when He hung on the cross. The gruesome and unbearable pain He bore in His body did not reach the magnitude of the pain He endured in His inner being as the sins of the world were thrust upon Him, because the horror and blackness of sin separated Him from the Father.
He paid the full debt of sin and is also our great high priest, who is our advocate before the Father and who works on our behalf even in our deepest trials:
God gives grace in the difficult places when we turn to Him. That does not mean that troubles will instantly vanish, but He will work His perfect will in us to conform us to the image of Christ, for He promises:
Here God reveals through Paul that trials can be used to conform us to the image of Christ and that His work in us is a full and complete work, all the way from justification to glorification. But lest anyone fear that he is separated from God during trials and what has been called the dark night of the soul, Scripture assures us that nothing can separate us from Christs love.
We need to encourage one another with these words because our hope is in God. Indeed, in the most difficult trials and the darkest nights, our adversary will work to tempt us to feel abandoned and condemned, as well as tempt us to sin in other ways. But, the above Scripture assures us that we are not abandoned. He is present to give us help to overcome temptation:
Have we diligently called upon the Lord in our afflictions and waited for His help? We want instant relief, but Gods timing, whether short or long, is the right timing for His perfect purposes in us. He is true to His Word, even when the passing of time may seem to contradict His promises. We can count on Him.
God is faithful. He does enable His children to persevere through suffering. He not only brings them through, but He brings them to glory.
(From PAL, V6N6)
PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries, 4137 Primavera Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110
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