There are many cringe-worthy things I hear as a counselor. Atrocities committed against children, murder, abuse, unspeakable cruelty. But one of the things that makes me cringe the most is when a truth has been twisted into something that damages instead of heals.
It is common, in counseling, to hear someone in pain question God, or blame Him. “How could He let this happen? I thought He would not give me more than I could bear, but this ….this is too much!” The betrayal they feel is raw, almost tangible. How can they trust a God who would allow ___ to happen?
The cringe-factor increases when I hear a perky, peppy, pop song on Christian radio that twists that phrase to come directly from God…”I won’t give you more, more than you can take.” It makes me want to scream. That phrase, that platitude that is doled out so easily by Christians and non-Christians alike is NOT in Scripture. God NEVER promised us that He would not give us more than we think we can take.
The truth, and where I think most people base this misconception, is that He will never allow us to be TEMPTED beyond what we are able, promising us to always provide a means of escaping that temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). This by no means promises a bubble-wrapped life of bliss, free of any pain that we might deem “too much”.
One of the core tasks of a counselor is to help the client recognize lies they believe about themselves or life, and help them exchange those lies for truth. Because the Truth sets us free. But that doesn’t mean the truth is easy.
The truth is that human beings consistently choose to do things without thought of the consequences to themselves or others. We all live in the aftermath of this. Pain is a part of that reality. Scripture warns us that pain, trials, tribulations…they are all a part of this life. The Truth tells us that these things can be used for good, despite the original evil or selfish intent. They can make us strong. They can help us help others. They can result in changes that better everyone they touch. Think about the countless organizations out there that began out of someone’s pain. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, America’s Most Wanted, The Center for Missing and Exploited Children…these are some of the biggest and most well-known; but we can all likely think of scores of local ministries, missions, and non-profits who grew up in response to a deep and agonizing pain. These groups began because someone said, “I refuse to accept that this is just how it is. I refuse to accept that this cannot change.”
That is the place of truth… when we look past our pain to see what can become of it, when we let our agony move us to ministry, when we let the tears we’ve cried mingle with those of others in pain.
The first step for anyone in counseling is to see the truth. We have to recognize the lies we have believed and replace them with truth if we are to ever hope for a positive change.
As Christians, we must be ever vigilant for the truth. We have to know it well enough to recognize a counterfeit. We have to expose the lies so that they do not become entrenched in us, causing damage untold. It’s not easy; but we were never promised easy. We were promised pain and difficulty. And we were promised He would never leave us. The hard part is learning how He is all we need.