Is God Enough?

counseling

Photo Credit: Creative Commons, jdhancock

Have you ever felt like God just wasn’t enough? That His presence couldn’t solve your problems, nor assuage your deepest fears?

I received an email from a reader and, with her permission, here is a portion of her question:

“You mentioned in a few of your posts that you have seen a counselor.  Given your faith and God’s promises, why do you feel it necessary to seek counseling? Isn’t God enough?”

This question saddened me, because I know many churches that see counseling as evil. Rather than encouraging people to seek professional help, hurting people are instructed to ‘pray more’ or ‘try harder’ or perhaps ‘learn to study the Bible.’ As much as this type of thinking makes my blood boil because I’ve seen the devastating effects on one friend in particular, I understand where it originates.

There are verses about God giving us everything we need, a verse about God never giving us more than we can handle, and other stories about miraculous healing where people simply prayed. It’s easy to make inferences and rules based on what is not explicitly taught in the pages of God’s word.

But is God enough? Is spending time with Him enough to fight our addictions, fix our marriages, and heal childhood wounds?

I believe the answer is absolutely, “YES”. But in the same breath, I also must mention we would be foolish to think that God doesn’t work through wise counsel, through understanding our past, and through talking out our problems with a professional. Imagine if last year when Michael was dizzy and numb on one side of his body, if I simply said, “let’s pray about it. God is enough. He will heal you!” and refused to take him to the doctor. Was God enough for Michael? Absolutely.

But He worked through the hands and minds of brilliant doctors, MRI machines, and drugs to diagnose the problem and alleviate the symptoms. God is enough, but that doesn’t mean He’s going to hit you with a heavenly healing stick and walla! you are fixed.

I remember praying for three years that God would heal me from hating myself and every inch of my body. I tried fasting. I tried praying in a different way, with more faith and less doubt. I asked friends to lay hands on me. I tried everything, and nothing seemed to bring the soul-quenching healing I longed for.

It wasn’t until I spent a year or two with a counselor who told me over and over what I was worth that I finally felt less like a shattered jar and more like a clay pot with just a few cracks.

Please go see a counselor if you are in over your head and don’t know where to turn. If you feel like a shattered jar on the floor, I can honestly not recommend anything more than spending one hour a week talking to a professional. God is certainly enough. You don’t need to work harder or pray more to find healing. Performing to receive good things is never, ever what God intends. May He work through the words of a professional to help your soul and mine find rest.

What do you think? Do you think counseling is bad/good? Has anyone ever told you that God could heal you and didn’t need a counselor’s help?

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Comments
20 Responses to “Is God Enough?”
  1. Catherine says:

    Hi Ruthie,

    I agree with you, definitely, but it took me awhile to get there. I didn’t understand counseling or its place in the Christian’s life until I sought some help myself. It was only a few sessions, but I know without a doubt that God used the wise words of a woman I barely knew to pull me up out of myself. A lot of times when I hear my friends saying the same, self-hating things, I encourage them to consider counseling. It’s a big, scary step, and I understand completely why people don’t want to do it. But take it from someone who enjoys “having it all together,” sometimes we don’t, and God has blessed others to in turn bless us.

    Thank you so much for posting this.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Catherine, thanks for your comment. It is confusing when people oversimplify healing & our relationship with God. I’m glad you found healing through a counselor’s wise words!

  2. Ruthie, I agree with you. I had MAJOR issues to work through and God Himself has led me to amazing people to help me to overcome! They are all wise counsel submitted to the Lord, I am beyond thankful TO HIM, he soooo wants His people to walk in wholeness and FREEDOM. I wanted to post a link to my website with a list of counselor type people that I went too and received help. In case any of your readers are here in Atlanta. Thank you for your writing!

    http://lindsaysnyder.wordpress.com/helpful-resources/

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Amazing, Lindsay! I’m so glad you found freedom in counseling. Thanks for dropping the link for my Atlanta readers:)

  3. Ang says:

    I come from a past of very serious abuse but before I understood that, I was in tremendous pain and turmoil. I had a lot of lay people “counsel” me and pray for me. The only thing was, I didn’t get better. I was told I was “playing games”, not praying enough, reading enough, was too self-focussed, had demons, hadn’t forgiven, was lying and the list goes on. I went through years of this before finding a very good Christian counselor who actually had the skills to help me. Years later I’m doing much better and still see her as a spiritual director. We were just talking last week how amazing it is that I survived all that happened. Was God there? Yes, he gave me hope and he kept me alive and he lead me to this wonderful wise woman (which is an amazing story in itself). I still believe we should pray and I believe in the spiritual disciplines but I also believe in seeking good Christian professional help. God gave these people the gifts and education they have to help us.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      “I was told I was “playing games”, not praying enough, reading enough, was too self-focussed, had demons, hadn’t forgiven, was lying and the list goes on.”

      Oh, Ang. That makes me so angry! I’m so sorry you were treated in this way. I am glad you found someone to help you out of the darkness! Praise God. Blessings to you, sister.

  4. Kristy says:

    It makes my blood boil too but I’ve seen where they are coming from and I’ve seen the benefits of counseling. After years of thinking I could handle everything myself, I found myself not looking to God for answers. This led to sin that left me on rock bottom and devastated. And while I knew God was still with me and he has healed me, a professional Christian counselor helped me see light at the end of the tunnel. I had something to look forward to each week, someone to talk to who wouldn’t judge. She was able to point me back to God when I was only looking at self. And as someone who lived far from friends and family, it gave me a friend I could see and hug and pray with. Plus my relationship with God is closer than ever and she helped get me there. So woohoo for Godly counseling!!!!!

  5. Sofia says:

    Hey Ruthie,
    I’m actually at a point where I’ve been thinking about going into an MFT program (pursuing it as a profession).

    Several things have kept me from it:

    -I have heard people saying that it is demonic.
    -I question whether I would truly be interested in it (I feel like I would be sitting there bored out of my mind because I can’t voice my opinions nor can I solve people’s problems for them. I am very good at solving problems, but people don’t need me to do that for them right? ).
    - I too, believe that only Jesus can truly heal ANYONE. That leaves me wondering how will I, a flawed human being, help another flawed human being.

    I’m really struggling to choose a career path and I have been for some time. I don’t feel like I’m “the best” at anything and I want to glorify Jesus in whatever I do. I’m also stuck with the mentality that I can only serve the LORD if I select certain jobs (this thinking is stupid, but for some reason I can’t shake these thoughts). I would greatly appreciate your prayers and your thoughts.
    Thank you.
    -Sofia

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Oh Sofia,

      It is so hard to figure out what to do with our lives and how to honor God in the process. Unfortunately, there are always people who will say things like “counseling is demonic” and other crazy things that leave us paranoid to take one step. God uses flawed human beings to not just heal people, but also speak soothing words of salvation. It’s one of the greatest gifts to be a part of His redemption story. What other life paths are you considering?

      Thanks for sharing, sister.

    • My friend Kristen is a licensed counsellor on staff at her church in Massachusetts (http://www.twitter.com/churchtherapist). She points out that professional counseling can be a vital part of the discipleship process. You could talk with her about her career path and ministry.

  6. Trish says:

    Amen! I come from a culture where mental-health professionals are seen as witch-doctors — those who deal and dabble in a forbidden realm. Like you, I was only able to untangle some of my issues when I sought out counseling in college. I was nervous — I was told: “there is nothing that a counseor can do for you that God can’t.” But the Lord intervened — He put me with the ONE Christian counselor in the department. In a secular university no less! This was proof enough that I had made the right decision. I believe Christian counseling falls in line with the three guides the Lord has given us in this life: The Scriptures, the Holy Spirit and godly community.

    Thanks so much for this post.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Witch-doctors?! Oh, I’m so sorry. Where are you from?

      I’m so glad you found this counselor in college. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Maggie says:

    I agree with you Ruthie. I went to counseling about my self harm before I became a believer and it did help (although I wish my parents didn’t insist on being in the same room with me and the counselor).

    There have been many times where I wanted to get professional help again but being in a mainly secular world where everyone doesn’t always have the view or the advice that I need. When there are the times where I truly KNOW I need help, not only do I go to God, I go to my christian friends and call my pastor or his wife, or someone that can help give me the Godly, biblical advice I need.

    Maybe one day I will need a MFT. I really hope not but I’ll never know unless I go through that part of my life. Till then I rely on God and the body of Christ,(my brothers and sisters, and Jesus himself).

  8. Louise says:

    Gosh, I would find it hard to keep my cool if someone said that! I have been in counselling for a few months, and despite the hit to my disposable income it is worth every euro. It is clearly God’s leading, as I am living with people who have reaped the benefits of counselling, my counsellor is from the UK like me (despite the fact we are in France), and her office is super easy to get to after work. It’s healing me in so many areas of my life, not just the issues I went to see her about; To be honest I think everyone should get counselling at some point in their 20s as we all carry so much baggage.

  9. R says:

    Hey Ruthie, I remember talking to you about a nasty break up that I had late in 2011. Well I attended a programme specifically designed for ladies known as the Renewing Self Programme and run by the Alabastron Network Trust. The programme is Bible based but is not a substitute for counselling or psychological help. The programme equips one to have skills such as identifying patterns in one’s life, off loading the baggage we have carried for so long, drawing boundaries and maintaining a healthy self esteem as well as forgiveness. I applied these in all areas of my life from wounds in my childhood to friendships in my teenage years and men that I dated later and it didnt work out. One thing is for sure the programme transformed me in so many ways and I now feel that I am living life with a purpose. I forgave the man who really broke my heart and we have given it another shot. Yes…we are back together. He has learnt so much from me and I have helped him identify the areas in his life that he needed to deal with. It is not rosy but it is fulfilling and value adding because each day we are living has more purpose. To comment on what you are saying: God is enough and God used this programme to bring me closer to him.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Rachel,

      Sounds like quite a program. Are the same problems still persistent in your relationship or have you both changed? What is different this time? Thank you for sharing your story. That takes courage!

  10. I have personally benefitted from licensed Christian counseling. My counselor helped me through a diagnosis of clinical depression and recovery. At the same time, my husband was seeing a counselor to work through his own issues, and we went to a fantastic marriage counselor together. Before we started all that counseling, my brain was telling me my life options were divorce or suicide. A year later, we were healthier, stronger, and happier than ever. I think everyone should go to a counselor, even in less dramatic situations.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Thanks for sharing, Becky. Really appreciate your courage to share your story here. It’s never easy to admit we don’t have it all together. But we serve a God who does!

  11. Aaron says:

    I have never heard God speak to me in an audible voice, but I do believe He had spoken to me at times through the voice of others. I believe God can and does use counselors (professionals, friends, family, etc) to speak to us when we need to hear an audible voice. As long as that counsel lines up with the word of God, I think we can receive it as coming from Him.

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