Biblical Soul Care for Suffering
Note: This is the third in a blog mini-series asking the simple question: Is there a biblical model for spiritual friendship, one-another ministry, biblical counseling, and pastoral counseling?
I’m summarizing these posts from Spiritual Friends.
Biblical Counseling for Suffering: Parakaleo—“The Evils We Have Suffered”
Biblical counseling recognizes that not all suffering is due to personal sin (Job 1-2 and John 9). Therefore, not all counseling focuses upon confrontation of the sins we have committed. Biblical soul care faces the evils we have suffered by living face-to-face with Christ.
Parakaletic (John 14; 2 Corinthians 1) spiritual friends assume the role of encouragers coming alongside to help their friends because we believe the world is fallen and it often fall on us. As the Good Samaritan crossed over to the other side and bloodied himself to care for a stranger’s suffering body, so biblical counselors move near to enter the mess and muck of a friend’s suffering soul.
Biblical Soul Care
Biblical counselors compassionately identify with people in pain. We reject the shallow pretense that denies suffering. Like Jeremiah, we lament. Like Paul, we groan for home. We’re out of the nest. East of Eden. We’re not home yet. We join our hurting spiritual friend in admitting that life is bad.
We also insist that God is good. Therefore, we don’t direct people to us. Instead, we redirect people to Christ and the Body of Christ. We point our suffering friends to their suffering Savior. We remind them what a Friend they have in Jesus. We also equip them to avail themselves of all the resources of the Body of Christ through discipleship, worship, fellowship, stewardship, and ambassadorship.
Loving God and Others
Biblical counselors have God’s greater purposes in mind: experiencing communion with Christ and conformity to Christ as people love God (exalt God by enjoying and entrusting him) and love others. Symptom relief is not our primal goal. Whether our spiritual friends find a “cure” or not, whether their symptoms are alleviated or not, we want to help them to find God (communion) in the midst of their suffering.
Biblical counselors long for people to love Christ and love like Christ. We want them to see that God is good even when life is bad. We want to empower people so that they:
• Exalt God: Worship, glorify, praise, and honor Him
• By Enjoying God: Seeking, desiring, thirsting for, and drawing near to Him
• And by Entrusting Themselves to Christ: Clinging to, living for, obeying, serving, and surrendering to Him).
Empowered by their deepened connection to Christ, they love others more deeply.
Satan wants suffering to crush us. God uses suffering to soften us. Satan wants suffering to defeat us. God uses suffering to defeat Satan by transforming us into better lovers. Becoming a better lover—that’s the goal of biblical counseling for suffering.
The Rest of the Story
I invite you to return for Part 4 where we learn about Biblical Counseling through Sustaining: Climbing in the Casket.
Join the Conversation
How well are you equipped to help people to face their suffering face-to-face with Christ?
Who has been a biblical soul care-giver for you in your suffering?
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