Vol. 1 - No. 5
by Byron Gage
It becomes increasingly apparent to me as the years go by that the personal problems that Christians (and others) often have are not usually dealt with. I speak primarily of emotional problems. There are many factors involved in such a situation, not the least of which is purely a lack of concern for one another. I believe this to be a deplorable situation. I have seen (and I'm not all that old) many tragic situations develop which virtually cried out for "counseling," and the cry went unheeded. How can a brotherhood of set-apart individuals read the pleas of the apostle Paul with regard to our relationship to one another and still be insensitive to the problems that we all sometimes have? Now, before some of my preaching brethren get their hackles up, I understand the role of the evangelist to be to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2) and do all which comes under such a command. Yet, I also know that a balm will not promote healing unless it is applied to where it hurts. We need to understand people. Yes, Christians are people too. The wrong thing to say at a particular time may indeed be the truth, but the results may be devastating. The application of truth to the proper situation or question is the job of every Christian, especially, the evangelist. We need to learn to evaluate a situation, address the question or problem, and give an understanding, compassionate, and SCRIPTURAL answer. The answer may cut to the heart, but isn't that what godly sorrow leading to repentance is all about? It may bring a flood of relief to the grief-stricken heart. But , the point is this: we must address the problems that people have, be swift and decisive, and help direct the course of men to heaven above: Our goals should be to help as many as possible to have a happy and fulfilling life here upon earth, and yet not at the expense of their soul's welfare.
HELPING PEOPLE THROUGH THEIR PROBLEMS, by Selwyn Hughes, Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a book designed to help in understanding the problems that people have. Doctrinally, I have a few difficulties with some of the things that are expressed in this book. But, as a help in understanding and dealing with problems, it is very good. It is small enough (192 pages) so as to not be burdensome, yet has a great deal of information.
The author states in the Preface, "In this book I have tried, as far as possible, to avoid the awesome term 'counselor'. A word I prefer is 'people-helper'." No wonder, for the term "counselor" connotes the professional shrink who sweeps sin under the rug of humanism and causes more real problems than he cures.
Beginning with chapter 2 of the book, I found much valuable information and motivation. It is enjoyable reading and not too technical nor tedious. Most of what is presented is not new material, but is presented in an easy-to-understand format. I found this book to be a little more to the point of people-helping than some of the other books on the same subject in my library. Chapter 2 deals with goal-setting. This section deals with what I consider to be the most basic thing we need to understand when dealing with the problems of others. Our goal is "to help them to become more like Jesus". Joy will be a by-product of the process of becoming more like our Lord. The author says on page 20, "If we understand the Scripture rightly, the goal of Christian living is not happiness, but holiness ....Happiness, as the word suggests, depends on what happens. Joy is independent of events. It keeps on flowing in the most dismal and depressing circumstances."
One thing stands out to me in this book, and that is the way in which the author simplifies and clarifies very complex emotional problems. I'm convinced that if we could but understand how we feel, determine where such feelings originate, then see what the Scriptures say about it, we could handle just about any problem that comes along. Call it a simplistic (maybe even naive) stance if you want to, but we have accepted the false idea that our emotional problems are beyond the reach of any but the professional psychoanalyst. The result has been a terrible lack of effort on the part of Christians to deal with their own problems and the problems of others.
I do not advocate setting up practice as an amateur psychologist and neither does the author, but we need to be aware of the value of an understanding friend and brother who can help in time of confusion and frustration, pain and grief, and depression and apprehension. The book is only $3.95, so get it, read it, pick up on the good and you'll find it worth the price.