We had just completed a session a few hours previous when a man called to ask some questions about the wonderful and unexpected things that had occurred in our time together with the Lord. “So did any of what happened today surprise you, Pastor?” “No, not really,” I replied. “What you were wrestling with and the experience you had with Jesus today is more common that you might think.” He then continued: “So you mean I am not abnormal or hopelessly weak? Well, that is sure not the way I feel when I am around other ‘mature’ Christians.”
It is truly regrettable that we place such a stigma on going to see a biblically-based, Christ-dependent counselor or pastor. In the realm of physical illness or injury we totally expect a person to seek medical attention. We ask about the issue. We show concern for their well being. Heavens, we spend a goodly amount of our collective prayer time appealing to the Lord on behalf of the physical conditions and ailments of those we know and love. But when was the last time you heard during “prayer request time” that someone was wrestling with anger or depression or doubt or low self-image or overwhelming guilt or an unshakeable sense of shame? If you did, I bet it got real quiet for a moment.
Sadly the way we respond to those legitimate needs sends a message to those folks and a watching world. We convey that the person is weak or bad or really messed up – which typically only reinforces the turmoil inside. It really upsets me when I hear this comment: “It is great to hear that Joe is coming to see you. He has ‘real’ problems.” The truth is, we all have “real problems.” The difference is Joe is honest and courageous enough to admit he has them and is determined to change them by committing himself to Jesus and another person on a path of truth and healing.
Allow me to share a quote from Neil Anderson of Freedom In Christ Ministries:
“In too many cases, pride prevents us from seeking the help we need, and the consequences are often predictable and tragic. Pride comes before a fall, and God is opposed to the proud. It is more honest and liberating to admit that we need help than it is to pretend we can live the Christian life in isolation. Our drive to be self-sufficient undermines our sufficiency in Christ. Those who are secure in Christ readily admit their need for one another, and they don’t hesitate to ask for help when it is necessary. We absolutely need God, and we necessarily need each other. It is the essence of love to meet the needs of others.”
Am I trying to “drum up business”? No, not really. But I will tell you this. It is absolutely essential that the Body of Christ be available for every person who walks through the door of my office. The “surgery” may occur in my office but the “physical therapy” takes place in the community of believers – unless that community is prideful and “self-sufficient.” Endeavor, with me, to be honest and accepting this week.