Heard and Understood: One of God's Healing
In my studies to become a drug counselor and/or therapist and/or Christian Counselor, I was repeatedly taught that being heard and understood is how people heal. This did not jive with my upbringing (not that I am judging my parents). So in an effort to prove it to myself, I went into Scripture to find all the times where God did this for other people. I hope you benefit from reading this list.
All Scripture quotations are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) unless otherwise noted. Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. 2009. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.
Presupposition: God's Omniscience
One presupposition that should be stated
prior to the list is that God is Omniscient: He knows
everything. I will not list them here, but someone has
already made a
great list of them. But this is what is interesting
about God's omniscience: because God knows everything, there's
no need for Him to ask us questions. Thus it should be
noted that in every question God asks, it's not for His benefit,
but for ours.
Adam and Eve
In Genesis 3, the Bible records the fall of mankind. If you look at Genesis 3 we see multiple times God asked Adam and Even a question:
9 So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
11 Then He asked, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
13 So the Lord God asked the woman, “What is this you have done?”
In this, it's noteworthy that God didn't have to ask, for He already knew. But note that He asked questions rather than just appearing suddenly and handing out punishment. It could be argued that God did this to allow them the opportunity to repent (which they didn't take).
In this we see perhaps that God's intent was not to just hand out punishment but to have a dialogue with Adam and Eve.
In Genesis 4, Cain's offering was rejected. Note that God first asks Cain questions. In my opinion, this is to get Cain to think about how to rectify the situation, which implies that God wants relationship.
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And
why do you look despondent? 7 If you do what is right, won’t
you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is
crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must
rule over it.”
9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother
10 Then He said, “What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground!"
I think one of the main things God is trying to do here is to teach Cain. Perhaps this is one of the first situations where mankind has faced sin without being in the Garden of Eden.
Parable of the Good Samaritan
In Luke 10 we see perhaps the most forgotten scripture in the Bible: the prelude to the Parable of the Good Samaritan, which is arguably the most well known parable. What I find striking is how Jesus, being God and knowing everything, still asked a reflective question to an "expert in the law."
25 Just then an expert in the law stood up to test Him,
saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the law?” He asked him. “How do you read it?”
36 “Which of these three do you think proved to be a
neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”
37 “The one who showed mercy to him,” he said.
Then Jesus told him, “Go and do the same.”
What's amazing to me is that Jesus could've said, "I'm God, here's what it is...." But He didn't. Interestingly, He asked the expert in the law. Jesus is the master Counselor (Isaiah 9:6). He then tells the story of the good Samaritan and then asks the man what he thinks.
Jesus is engaging the brains of those who are listening to Him. You see, faith is not just blind luck or blind belief, it's a mental decision as well.
I think Jesus was trying to heal this man's conscience. You see, in verse 29, the man asks, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus gave an example that engaged the man's brain so that, in my opinion, he would think about what he believes.
In 1 Kings 19 we see an interesting story, one that has long intrigued me. In the previous chapter, Elijah triumphed over the prophets of Ba'al through God. Everything looked like Elijah was on a winning streak. Then abruptly, Elijah runs away from Jezebel. This story is about how God was gentle with Elijah.
3 Then Elijah became afraid and immediately ran for his
life. When he came to Beer-sheba that belonged to Judah, he
left his servant there, 4 but he went on a day’s journey into
the wilderness. He sat down under a broom tree and prayed that
he might die. He said, “I have had enough! Lord, take my life,
for I’m no better than my fathers.” 5 Then he lay down and
slept under the broom tree.
Suddenly, an angel touched him. The angel told him, “Get up and eat.” 6 Then he looked, and there at his head was a loaf of bread baked over hot stones, and a jug of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. 7 Then the angel of the Lord returned for a second time and touched him. He said, “Get up and eat, or the journey will be too much for you.” 8 So he got up, ate, and drank. Then on the strength from that food, he walked 40 days and 40 nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 He entered a cave there and spent the night.
Then the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to
him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Hosts, but the Israelites have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are looking for me to take my life.”
11 Then He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.”
At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
My first note as I read this is that God
could've just said, from the beginning, "sure, ok, you deserve
to die, that's true" and then killed him outright. But
notice God's compassion. I imagine Elijah was feeling
pathetic, useless, small and insignificant.
Instead, God fed him and then met with him. And I believe that, again, the question is to get Elijah to think. God isn't judging Elijah, and surely Elijah deserved to at least be reprimanded for running from Jezebel. But God doesn't do that.
Verse 11 seems to be God inviting Elijah to understand something. I believe God wanted Elijah to understand that He wants relationship. God didn't want fear, as He was not in the wind, earthquake, or fire. But instead a voice would come to Elijah. A dialogue.
So especially as counselors and therapists, we need to lovingly, compassionately, stop and listen to people. Often that's how people heal.