The Raphael Remedy

My Job Is Not To Understand…

by | Oct 17, 2018 | Counseling

Now, that may be a surprising thing to hear from a therapist, but walk with me here.  In my counseling work naturally I’m oriented toward seeking understanding…of the human psyche, my clients, their past, their hopes and dreams and how God may be working in their lives.  That is, after all what a therapist is paid to do.  However, what I’ve come to understand, ironically, is that seeking to understand all things can actually work against me.

Let me explain.

The Christian life is one of paradoxes… life through death, joy in suffering, freedom through obedience…you get the picture. When we understand and learn to walk in these paradoxes we’re free.   One such paradox is this…that God wants us to know Him…so much so that He revealed Himself over the centuries, first to the Jews and later through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Through the Holy Spirit, He gives us wisdom and understanding.  And yet, everything is not revealed and sometimes in the most trying times He seems the most silent – those times when we desperately try to understand how we’re going to pay the bills, how our kids will get free of drugs, why a child is taken so young.  The anguish in these situations is very real…and the mystery of such suffering is the greatest challenge to faith.

In such times, what is needed is trust.  Seeking understanding can frequently further our anguish.  Even as a therapist, there are times when I can’t understand what God is doing or why He would allow such suffering in someone’s life.  To pretend I do or to offer my theories can amount to cruelty.  Sometimes I just don’t know and all I can do is walk through the pain with them.  In my own life this has been more often the case.  It’s always hardest to see in our own pain and struggles.  But what I do know after 25 years in the therapist’s chair is that God does know.  God does have a plan and as old time doctors used leaches to cure a patient, He may allow evil for a time to latch on with its selfish and wicked intent.  But He places limits and only allows it for our ultimate good.

The real end game for the Christian is heaven…that place of unending joy where we’ll be in full union with God and communion with others in bonds of love.  We so often think of it simply as a place when the reality is that heaven is actually all about our relationship with our Father who loves us. The most fundamental and essential component of this relationship is trust.  And when we think about it, the original sin that caused division and separation in the garden of Eden was the failure to trust in God’s goodness.  Plain and simple, that was the root of all of our problems.  Adam and Eve let their trust in the goodness of their Creator die and yielded to the evil one’s insinuation that God was somehow holding out on them and that they’d better take matters into their own hands.  Hence, restoring Eden must necessarily mean learning and practicing trust in our Good God.

So when struggling with health issues, financial strain, marital problems or whatever challenges that have been thrown your way, stop demanding understanding as a prerequisite for healing.  First work on trust.  Pray for the grace to trust….or start by praying for the desire to trust.  Sure, always seek understanding, but put that second.  The Holy Spirit will reveal what you need to know in His time so persevere.  But remember, the end game is trust!

Allison Ricciardi, LMHC
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