Counseling Process

The Beauty and Power of God’s Presence in Counseling

Steve Viars
April 9, 2024
5 minute read
Blog
The Beauty and Power of God’s Presence in Counseling

First generation leaders in the biblical counseling movement often spoke about the synergistic relationship between preaching/teaching and counseling. They suggested that a person who regularly preaches or teaches God’s Word will be better prepared to counsel with sound theology and a person who regularly counsels will be better prepared to preach or teach God’s Word with practical applications for everyday life.Yesterday that principle came alive for me in ways that made me thank the Lord yet again for the wisdom of the women and men whom He used to launch the BC movement. It was a Monday morning, and I had a couple of hours to work on the following Sunday’s Christmas sermon from Matthew 1:23 about Jesus being our Immanuel. I began chasing that theme around the Scripture and soon, as is often the case, had enough material for a mini-series and I wasn’t even done with the introduction yet.

Biblical Examples of God's Presence

I thought about how the role of God’s presence played out both positively and negatively in the Garden of Eden. Then came statements about people like Enoch and Noah whom God’s Word reports actually “walked with God” (Genesis 5:24, 6:9). Soon I was in the book of Exodus and being reminded about the design of the ark of the covenant where the Lord would meet His people from the seat of mercy (Exodus 25:21-22). That led to imagining what it would be like for God to lead the children of Israel in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22).There were negative examples too, like the haunting day after the ark had been captured by the Philistines that a young mother chose to name her newborn son Ichabod, “because the glory of God has departed” (1 Samuel 4:21). Or God’s warning to King Solomon that if he and the people forsook the covenant, that He would cast them out of His sight (2 Chronicles 7:19-20).That context makes Matthew’s explanation of how Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in the virgin conception of Jesus especially impactful. The Messiah would be “God with us.” As the new covenant continues to unfold, we learn that because of the power of the gospel, Christ now is in us (Colossians 1:27) and that relationship is sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13, 4:30). It is on that basis that we can find joy and contentment regardless of our circumstances because God has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6).

God's Presence Now

As I finished the study session and prepared to transition to my counseling responsibilities that evening, I started anticipating the privilege of delivering such a hope-filled message to our church family in six days. However, in the providence of God He wanted the sermon delivered sooner than that, just to me. As I listened to my counselees recount a period of extreme suffering they and their children had endured, I quickly felt inadequate for the task at hand. I sincerely wanted to be a blessing to these dear people, but struggled to know the best way to proceed.Thankfully it was a very short walk from my human weaknesses to the Christmas reminder that God was with me. Jesus’ shed blood and imputed righteousness made it possible for me to have hope and confidence in the One who had promised to never leave me or forsake me. The most important Person in the counseling room was the One who was unseen, my Immanuel.

Conclusion

If you are currently engaged in biblical counseling but are not actively involved in preaching and teaching God’s Word, I would encourage you to look for opportunities to do so. On the other hand, if the Lord has called you to regularly minister God’s Word publicly, consider finding ways to counsel small groups (Acts 20:20) or individuals (Acts 20:31) from that same source of truth. It is likely that you will find both disciplines to be wonderfully synergistic.And in whatever ministry setting you find yourself at the time, be encouraged because Jesus is our Immanuel. I was reminded of that just last evening in counseling. I can hardly wait to herald that truth to a larger group six days from now.Photo by Sam Schooler on Unsplash

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