For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor... - Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)
Who do you turn to in times of pain?
Members of the church?
We all experience times when we are struggling and facing difficulty. And while we believe we can always turn to God for His real support, on occasion we need support that works alongside what He, our partner, our friends and our church family provides. That is when we need a counsellor.
So, what is a counsellor?
A counsellor's job is to walk beside clients during times of difficulty and to help them overcome these challenges and make changes in their lives. By using a variety of different approaches, a counsellor focuses on building a trustworthy relationship with the client, allowing them to feel accepted and welcome and able to explore painful thoughts, feelings and behaviours. A counsellor may challenge the client at times when they can see the action being taken is not helpful to the client and will provide education and support. They express empathy, support and encouragement to their clients.
In aiming to help their clients, a counsellor may use a variety of different therapeutic techniques, each which come with a different framework and strategy. For example, as a psychologist I personally use techniques from multiple frameworks including Person Centred Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy and Schema Therapy. Each of these frameworks come with their strengths and weaknesses - which is expected as we are flawed humans. And that is the tough thing about getting therapy - sometimes it doesn't work. Sometimes the treatment form is not right for the client or for addressing their problems. We know a significant proportion of clients cease treatment before it is recommended to do so. Or they require additional treatment after discharge from a treatment program. That is our weakness as human counsellors - we are not perfect.
But God is Different.
Much like a (human) counsellor, I believe that God is closest to us when we are in pain. Which means, in my mind, it makes complete sense that Jesus would not only be a counsellor - but a Wonderful (ESV) or Amazing (The Message) Counsellor. Unlike us, God is not flawed and his wisdom and insight is perfect.
God is genuine. He treats us with unconditional positive regard and empathy. He challenges negative and unhelpful thoughts and patterns of behaviour; has an understanding of the impact of our past on the present and encourages us to build value driven, meaningful lives.
So, if a human - in their flawed weakness - has the capacity to support someone in their pain and difficulties, how much more powerful, skilled and capable is God? If a human can see - and accept - a client no matter the flaws, how much more can God? And if a human can be trustworthy and reliable, imagine what God can do!
God is the most wonderful, amazing counsellor in existence and through him we can get through any pain or difficulty.
This has been a tough year for many of us in different ways. God knows. Understands. And is able to bring us wonderful counsel. Let's look to Him afresh with hope and faith in His ability to help us in our times of need.
- Written by Ashleigh Crosilla.