Counseling the Weary Counselor-Hope (Part 2)

In my last blog, I took a closer look at what the world would call counselor fatigue as compared to what the Bible calls the affliction of the minister of the Word.  Affliction may come because the counselor obeys God by choosing to minister to the church through the Word of God.  I told my story about an incident where I found myself so weary I could no longer see God clearly.  Remember this description from my last blog; “My overreaction the following day was a symptom of weariness from multiple ministry and counseling occasions. It was getting harder to sift through the evil and suffering in the world. In my counseling room every week, I had women who were vulnerable and broken from abuse, some unrepentant and selfish, some with grief and suffering. There seemed to be no end. My experiences with facing the numerous ways people sin against one another affected my counseling and ministry.” I was losing hope.  If I were my own counselor, I would then offer hope after listening and understanding the problem, which was that I was doubting God’s goodness and provision for me as His vessel of grace.

Our greatest hope comes from God Himself through His Word.  This principle may seem like an obvious answer, yet as weary, fatigued counselors, we find ourselves seeking hope in other areas of life rather than God’s Word.  Hope is in the One who saved us and His truth.  Psalm 119 is one of the most significant chapters written in the Bible, explicitly about God’s Word.  The Psalm speaks of God’s Word as the treasure above all treasures; it gives life, strength, wisdom, and comfort.  Psalm 119 offers hope for the weary counselor.

Biblically, caring for the weary counselor must begin by applying God’s Word, God’s way.  The biblical term is the “affliction of the minister of the Word”; hence the Word of God is an essential element of their care plan (2 Tim. 3:16).  Martin Luther wrote the following regarding Psalm 119:

One thing and one thing only is necessary for Christian life, righteousness and liberty.  That one thing is the most holy Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ… Let us then consider it certain and conclusively established that the soul can do without all things except the Word of God and that where this is not there is no help for the soul in anything else whatever.  But if it has the Word it is rich and lacks nothing, since the Word is the Word of Life, of truth, of light, of peace, of righteousness, of salvation, of joy, of liberty, of wisdom, of power, of grace, of glory and of every blessing beyond our power to estimate.  This is why the prophet in the entire Psalm 119, and in many other places of Scripture with so many sighs yearns after the Word of God.[1]

Although these statements about God’s Word are for all believers, how much more essential is it for the minister of the Word to get their healing and care from the Word of God?  The weary counselor’s care may include exercise, rest, time management, and relational accountability but God’s Word offers a powerful and intimate plan.  Nothing outside of God can give true healing and hope. Sustain me according to Your Word, that I may live; And do not let me be ashamed of my hope (Ps. 119:116). The weary counselor will find sustenance from God’s truth.

For the weary counselor, God’s Word is the only source of life and strength. Psalm 119 has much to say about suffering and the Word of God. For this blog, I will narrow down the topic to see how God uses affliction for His glory by concentrating on verses 65-72, whose theme is “God’s goodness and the blessing of affliction.”

Teth

65 You have treated Your servant well,

Lord, according to Your Word.

66 Teach me good discernment and knowledge,

For I believe in Your commandments.

67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,

But now I keep Your Word.

68 You are good and You do good;

Teach me Your statutes.

69 The arrogant have forged a lie against me;

With all my heart I will comply with Your precepts.

70 Their heart is insensitive, like fat,

But I delight in Your Law.

71 It is good for me that I was afflicted,

So that I may learn Your statutes.

72 The Law of Your mouth is better to me

Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

God’s promise to the weary counselor

65 You have treated your servant well – Lord, According to your Word

You have treated” indicates God’s actions toward his servant are always good, pleasant, right. The psalmist humbly refers to himself as a servant, a worshipper of God who understands his position before a Holy God. He knows that God’s Word promises He will work all things for the good of those who love Him.  (Rom 8:28).

The weary counselor can know that God’s Word is true, and He keeps His Word.  According to God’s Word, the weary counselor can praise God for treating them good, right, and just.  What a comfort to the counselor when feelings and circumstances seem hard.  They can choose to stand firm on God’s truth; God is good and only does good.

A good God uses affliction to lead His servant to obedience to His Word

66 Teach me good discernment and knowledge,

The psalmist’s prayer is for discernment and knowledge.  He recognizes two things: his need for wisdom and knowledge and God as the source of all wisdom and knowledge.

For I believe in Your commandments.

The psalmist also chooses to believe God’s Word, the source of truth. This truth about God’s Word is his prayer and confidence “I believe, help me believe.”(Mark 9:2).

For the weary counselor, acknowledging that they must rely on God for good discernment and knowledge brings hope when life around them seems confusing. God’s Word is the only true source.  They must remain humble, with open hands to receive the teaching God promises.

67 Before I was afflicted, I went astray,

The psalmist recognizes he was in sin before the affliction, Wandering away from God. Sin is the reason for affliction, whether from personal sin, the sin of others, or sin in the world. God used affliction as a form of discipline, God’s loving action to draw us back to Himself (Hebrews 12:5-13).

But now I keep Your Word.

The psalmist has been brought back to obedience to God’s Word and is thankful for the affliction that caused him to be obedient because he is now in the right relationship with God (Hebrews 12:11-13).

The weary counselor must recognize any sin in their lives will cause them to wander away from God’s blessing.  If they are unaware of their sin, they can pray and ask God to search their hearts (Psalm 139:23-24) and repent (1 John 1:9). Thank God for the affliction as He lovingly uses all things (Romans 8:28-29) to bring them to obedience to His Word.

You are good, and You do good;

Again, the psalmist praises God, as in verse 66, that God is good and can only do good.

Teach me Your statutes.

He prays for God to teach him, that he might remain humble and desire God’s Word in God’s way. The psalmist wants God to be his “divine instructor.” Discipline was not pleasant, but it brought him back to the place of obedience, so he implores, “Give me more LORD. More of You. More of Your Word.”[2]

Prayer, in humility, is essential for the weary counselor.  To continuously acknowledge and remind oneself of God’s goodness will help us capture our thoughts for Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).  The Bible states our need for God to teach us for on our own we are lost. Our hearts are deceived (Jer. 17:9), and we need our minds renewed (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23).

The arrogant will tempt us to disregard God’s Word

The arrogant have forged a lie against me;

The arrogant are those who hate God’s Word, hate what is good and right. The arrogant seek to rebel. The arrogant have lied against the psalmist, and their purpose is to slander and destroys him.

The weary counselor must seek wisdom and trust God to deal justly with those who oppose God’s Word.  God will not allow the arrogant to prosper (Mal 4:1).

With all my heart I will comply with Your precepts.

The divergence of the arrogant liars from the truth of God’s Word causes the psalmist to devote his whole heart to God’s Word.  The psalmist sees how arrogance and lies lead to God’s wrath.  He desires to obey God’s Word (Prov. 28:25b).

Their heart is insensitive, like fat,

“The heart of the prideful have no conscience, no genuine sense of right and wrong.  There is nothing in them that longs for God’s and His Word.”[3] Charles Spurgeon wrote this of “like fat,”Proud men grow fat through carnal luxuries …They riot in their prosperity….”[4]

Those who hate God’s Word will hate the ministry of the Word; therefore, they hate ministers of the Word (Matt. 5:10-12).  The weary counselor must stand firm in the knowledge of what is true.

But I delight in Your Law.

In contrast to the prideful, the psalmist loves God and His Word; he wants to obey.  Spurgeon writes of delighting in God’s law: “When law becomes delight, obedience is bliss…. and we shall become teachable, sensitive, and spiritual.”[5]

The weary counselor must pray to have the fat taken from their heart and have full delight in God’s law.

The value of affliction and the importance of God’s Word

71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, So that I may learn Your statutes.

The psalmist looks back at his trial, affliction, discipline and declares it good!  He realizes that without the affliction; he could not have learned to delight in God’s Word.

As the minister of the Word, there is a guarantee that there will be afflictions (John 16:33). Paul said he rejoiced in his affliction (Phil 2:17) because he could share in Christ’s suffering, and it revealed to the people he served his genuine care for them. Paul, like the psalmist’s, suffering revealed a genuine faith and delight in God’s Word.

72 The Law of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

The psalmist has chosen to make God’s Word his greatest treasure. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt.6:21).

The weary counselor needs to evaluate what they treasure, and God’s Word must be their delight.

Conclusion

To sum up, in Psalm 119:65-72, the psalmist proclaims that God is good and always does good; therefore, his affliction caused him to turn to God and His Word, and he found it more valuable than gold or silver.

How does this bring hope for the afflicted minister of the Word or the weary counselor?  There is no simple answer as each person’s circumstances are different, but the power of God’s never-changing character, and delight in God’s Word, is consistent to every believer. When the weary counselor seeks help from another brother or sister counselor, they can sort out what is causing the weariness; remember together that God is always good. Together they can walk through the suffering and seek truth while praying for a renewing of their delight in the greatest treasure there is; God’s Holy Word.


[1] Martin Luther, Luther’s Works. 45: The Christian in Society: 2, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan and Helmut T. Lehmann, American ed (Saint Louis, Mo.: Concordia Publ. House [u.a.], 1962).

[2] Daniel L Akin and David Platt Akin, David L, Merida, Tony, Exalting Jesus in Psalms 119 (Place of publication not identified: HOLMAN BIBLE PUB, 2021), 59.

[3] Akin and Platt, 59.

[4] “Https://Www.Blueletterbible.Org/Comm/Spurgeon_charles/Tod/Ps119_065-072.Cfm?A=597070,” n.d.

[5] “Https://Www.Blueletterbible.Org/Comm/Spurgeon_charles/Tod/Ps119_065-072.Cfm?A=597070.”

Photo by Molnár Bálint on Unsplash

Kathy HuttonKathy Hutton
Kathy Hutton serves with Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and as a part of Faith Community Ministries. Kathy was certified as a Biblical Counselor in 2019 and is pursuing a Masters in Biblical Counseling through Faith Bible Seminary. She and her husband, Rod, live in Lafayette and have 5 children.