I can remember sitting in my graduate Christian Counseling class hearing the professor say that the number one most important thing for the counselor to do is to be a good listener. I thought to myself, “Then why am I spending thousands of dollars to get this degree?” As time when on, I learned that it is more than sitting and staring at the person. A good listener contemplates what the person is saying. A good listener shows compassion and understanding not only based on what is being said, but the emotions and body language that is accompanying the person’s words. A good listener at the right time responds with compassionate and helpful words.
We all have a longing to be heard and understood. We also long for someone to empathize and show compassion. During this pandemic, most of us are experiencing continuous up-and-down emotions. I woke up feeling down and discouraged today. In fact, as I took a walk with Jesus this morning, I imagined myself wearing a mood ring! Have you ever seen one of those? You put it on your finger, and it turns a certain color according to your mood! If I had been wearing a ring this morning, it would have been black! Unsettled, discouraged, weary of it all. But as I continued to pour my heart out to my compassionate Lord, the ring gradually changed colors: gray, amber, green, blue-green, and finally blue. I never quite made it to the ultimate happy color, violet. But blue symbolizes calmness, and a feeling of being loved. How did I get there? I opened-up my emotions to Jesus. I told Him all my frustrations, discouragement, and mixed feelings. I kept talking! He truly is a good listener. Finally when I got it all out, I stopped to listen. This is the part that many of us miss out. We go to the counselor, dump our woes, and then run out of the office without waiting to see and hear the counselor’s response. Do you give time to God to respond after you pray, or do you rush off to begin the tasks of your day?
Let us look at a beautiful counseling session in the Scriptures (there are many!). In John 11:1-44, we see the story of Lazarus’ death and resurrection. Of course, this is a significant event in that the disciples and many others witnessed the power of God to raise one from the dead. This is a precursor to the resurrection of Christ. But there is another meaningful message in this story. Jesus’ responses to Martha and Mary. He had a different response for each of them. Jesus knows us to the very core, so He uniquely answers our cries according to the true needs of our hearts. To Martha, He immediately let her know that her brother would be resurrected. To Mary, He had a different response. “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. . . Jesus wept” (John 11:33, 35). Many around Him were inspired by the love Jesus demonstrated to Mary.
The Lord is an amazing counselor. He wants you to pour out your emotions and thoughts to Him. He can handle whatever emotions you have. Anger, confusion, discouragement. He even is willing to listen to our doubts about Him. Jesus responded to Martha and Mary’s doubts with compassion and love. He knew what they needed. Reassurance for Martha. Tears for Mary.
Yes, at times when I go through loss or am counseling one who is grieving, I can sense in my spirit that the Lord is weeping. We can think it is un-spiritual to moan at God. Hey, He already knows how you feel. So be honest with Him. It will be healing for your soul. But do not just “dump and run!” Sit and be still. Allow the Lord to speak to you. You may even feel deep comfort as His Spirit fills you with His love and compassion. Some have said they felt a hug from God or sensed His tears of compassion. One final word. End your time by stating by faith what the Scripture says about the character of God. Here is a good way to end your time with God each time you pray: “Lord, no matter how I feel, I know Your Word tells me that You are good, loving, faithful, and sovereign over all. So I trust you and surrender myself to your will.” This simple prayer will prevent the enemy from getting a stronghold in your heart. And it will bring the honor and glory our Almighty God deserves.
Today’s Bible reading: John 11:1-44
By Sue Corl