hopeHOPE: People seeking help desire HOPE. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Today’s guest blogger is Joshua Waulk, founder of Baylight Counseling in Florida. His wife, Christy, is one of our Heart2Heart Counselors listed here on my website’s biblical counselor directory for women. They often counsel together.(Edited for length.)

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In my work as a police officer, and now a biblical counselor, I have found that one common thread running through most, if not all, interactions with people seeking help is their desire for hopeWhatever circumstance they face, the hurting seek the assurance that things can change for the better.

The hurting also expect that I, as either a first responder or counselor, would be trustworthy. Additionally, they want me to either dispense hope or ensure them of a basis for it.

Hope, as it turns out, has much to do with why those in crisis or trauma call the police or seek wise counsel. My ability to earn the confidence and trust of the counselee is largely dependent on my skill in communicating that life can get better.

Plans fail for lack of counsel,
    but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22

Whatever else the counselor seeks to accomplish in the life of their counselee, the responsibility to impart Christ-centered hope in each and every session is of first importance (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

Above All, Give Hope

Counselees in a trial of any kind want the very best outcome and resolution. We are not surprised then to observe people of all beliefs and faith systems expressing, in some way, a longing that the pain and trials of life have an answer.

In any counseling scenario, the absence of hope will be detrimental to the prospects of success in counseling.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12

Dr. Wayne Mack writes that “biblical change cannot take place without hope.” He goes on to say that hope that is unbiblical, of the type offered in non-Christian settings, such as secular counseling and psychotherapy offices, “will inevitably crumble.” Mack’s words are remind us that not all hope is created equal (Matthew 7:24-27).

Substance of Hope

The substance of hope in biblical counseling, regardless of the facts and circumstances of a given case (i.e. marital infidelity, physical sickness, addiction, depression/anxiety, etc.), is the timeless, matchless, eternal word of God (Hebrews 4:122 Timothy 3:16-17).

Yes, we celebrate the advances of science and medical technology in the treatment of true diseases of the brain. But we also are persuaded of scripture’s centrality to the offering true soul care (Psalms 119:105).

Dr. Robert Jones writes that what makes biblical counseling biblical is the counselor’s vision for God’s redemptive work in Jesus Christ. He writes,

The Bible does not merely inform our counseling, as if it were simply one source of truth among several…the Bible drives our counseling.

Indeed, as the many theories of secular psychology are constantly refined, and new, even competing theories are developed, Christ and His Word remain the same (Hebrews 13:8Isaiah 40:8).

How Then Shall We Counsel

In an era of exploding medical advances, it is improbable that any one counselor would display omniscience in the latest discoveries and understanding of how to apply all available scientific data on every possible counseling topic. (This is particularly those not trained in the practice of medicine).

This begs the question, then, about how the clinically informed biblical counselor ought to approach his or her work. Are we striving toward becoming dispensers of clinical data or conduits of gospel-driven, Christ-centered hope?

Dr. Heath Lambert writes that today’s biblical counselor leaves the practice of medicine to those who know how to provide it. The biblical counselor also recognizes that spiritual problems do not have physical remedies. So the counselor’s task, through training and education, is to become adept at discerning the difference between the physical and the spiritual.

When counselees see that their counselor is interested in the wellness of their whole person and is not only concerned with identifying sin and memorizing Bible verses, as some outside of biblical counseling have suggested, hope is extended and confidence is instilled.

Hope-giving counselors who are committed to biblical change lead hopeful counselees.

Join the Conversation

How do you intentionally instill biblical hope in your counselees?

Permissions: This article (The Centrality of Hope in Counseling Biblically by Joshua Waulk) originally appeared on the Biblical Counseling Coalition website and is used with permission.
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