20 May Hopeful Counsel in Hopeless Times
As the Coronavirus runs rampant throughout our world, church leaders must understand the hopelessness and stress that invades, the counsel that encourages and the hope- filled message that brings new life.
People can experience undue clinical hardship during a crisis of great confusion and suffering. Someone once said. “We are ALL dysfunctional – there are just some that are more dysfunctional than most.” Clinical issues can lead people to exhibit all sorts of behaviors such as obsessively hoarding, becoming paralyzed by anxiety, diving deep into depression, displaying anger and frustration and reliving traumatic experiences.
People can suffer with the following during a time of great crisis:
• Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
• Generalized Anxiety Disorder
• Major Depressive Disorder
• PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
I encourage you to look up these diagnoses. Familiarize yourself on how people are mentally suffering during this pandemic.
Once we understand the hopelessness, we can go to God’s Word and discover His wise counsel in times of trouble. I recall the words in Isaiah 9:6: “Jesus is a wonderful counselor.” If scripture verifies Jesus as holding the credential of a Great Physician, then we must agree He is verified as being a Wonderful Counselor to all mankind! Jesus can give clinical supervision through His Word to help us give hope during hopeless times.
HERE ARE SOME WORDS OF HOPE THAT WE CAN OFFER DURING HOPELESS TIMES:
ENCOURAGE VERTICAL CONNECTION WITH GOD THROUGH PRAYER. Pray for self! Pray that God would help you overcome the difficulties of life by standing strong on the “Rock that is Higher than I.” Psalm 61:1 We also need to encourage our flocks to pray a prayer of self-denial. Jesus, our Wonderful Counselor, encouraged this so it is safe to promote! 2 Corinthians 6 says it best, “in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships…in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger…as having nothing yet possessing all things.” What a powerful prayer to overcome all dysfunction in life. Pray for others! Scripture encourages us to pray for others always. Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” When we pray for others, our eyes turn away from our own problems and empathy grows for others around us. Empathy is a sign of mental and spiritual growth.
ENCOURAGE HORIZONTAL CONNECTION WITH OTHERS. Even though quarantines keep us from large gatherings there are many ways to keep connected via phone, social media and an individual visit. Matthew 18:20, “Where two or three are gathered together in His name, He will be in the midst of them.” God foreknew there would be days of quarantines! Stephen Arterburn has a great book entitled, Healing is a Choice. The book discusses the need for connection to overcome mental struggles of all kinds. Stephen concludes that as we connect with God and others, we can discover healing.
ENCOURAGE PARALLELED CONNECTION WITH SELF. My aunt shared a statement; she said, “Keith don’t expect anyone to take care of you; only you can take care of yourself.” There is some truth here – I must take care of myself. I must implement the proper coping strategies: mentally, physically, spiritually and socially so I can do my best to serve God, my church, and my fellow man.
ENCOURAGE CROSS CONNECTION. As leaders, encourage believers to seek wise counsel from doctors, mental health professionals, Christian life coaches, and pastoral counselors. God has placed, in our fellowship, highly trained workers “for such a time as this.” Seek and discover a Christian professional today so crisis preparedness, hopeful ministry and Spirit-led living can be offered during hopeless times.