I started my journey into Christian psychology when I became a teacher in a small Christian school. No, at the time I didn’t have the degree to back it up, but when you teach teens on a daily basis you soon learn psychology on the fly. That was when I discovered that the greatest psychology instruction was in my hands all along: the Bible.
John wrote, “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone.” There is no more true statement than this. Those years were an encouragement for me to get into God’s Word and use it to steer these young adults through life. Each one had their own need, but I never encountered a trial that wasn’t addressed in Scripture. I remember one time I actually used Psalm 119 as a means of discipline. I don’t remember what the infraction was, but if you read this passage you find that it is teaching that God’s Word is true and wonderful and that if you stay true to God and His Word, no matter how bad the world becomes, the joy of God will never leave you. I felt that this was what was needed at the time so I assigned the student to write Psalm 119 three times. And, in case you are not aware, Psalm 119 has 176 verses! I’m pretty sure he knew that I was trying to help him get his focus back where it belonged.
Through the years I have studied and fulfilled the educational requirements for a Biblical degree and board certification as a Christian counselor, but I have learned that even though the world requires a degree, real and honest counseling can only come through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and reliance on God’s Word. There are psychological tests that assist in diagnosis, and there are proven methods for dealing with different types of psychological needs, but unless you treat the whole person, mind, body and spirit, then there can be no life change and many times, that is the true need.
Do I make counseling sound simplistic? I don’t mean to. It’s just that often we ignore the spiritual aspect of counseling because the answer is so simple that we don’t want to follow it. We often react like Naaman when Elisha told him to go wash himself in the Jordan River to cure his leprosy. When the prophet of God (the counselor) told Naaman what to do, Naaman was outraged! He thought surely there was a much more complicated solution to his healing than what Elisha was telling him to do. Don’t we often do the same thing when we are faced with depression, addiction, dependencies and other mental issues? We just know that there has to be more to our healing than reading God’s Word! And we are right, there is. We also need to believe and live God’s Word.
There are so many aspects to mental healing. Medication is often necessary especially in extreme cases of depression, personality disorders and other physical ailments. But we have to use the wisdom of the doctors who are prescribing the medications as a means of getting us to the point where we can receive the healing that is provided through God. He is our ultimate healing. What was Elisha trying to do? He prescribed the medication, washing in the river, but Naaman refused the healing which was getting into a right relationship with God by believing.
In my counseling with Prayers for Prodigals (support for families who have loved ones with addictions) I come up against people who are suffering from loneliness, fear, dependency, confusion and so many more issues that loving an addict can fill us with. With each counseling session, I learn more about the pain that these families are going through. And with each counseling session, I realize just how much God loves us and how faithful He is to lead us by the Holy Spirit to offer healing through His Word.
There are many instances in the Bible where Jesus tells people, “Go. Your faith has healed you.” I want that faith. I want to know that God cares enough about my quality of life that He gave me Words to heal me. Christian psychology is not a misnomer, it’s a prescription for life.