Christian Counseling Training Program: “Sick” Faith and Miracles and How Christian Counselors Can Help
Christian Counseling Training Program : Christian Counselors Can Help People Have A Healthier Faith
“Thy will be done” was the final submission of Christ’s human nature to his divine nature and Father. He asked for the chalice to be passed but did not demand it. He accepted the outcome of his gruesome torture and death because he saw the will of the father before his own. He did not demand that a legion of angels slaughter the Roman garrison for his protection instead he meekly accepted his death as the will of the Father. Christ here portrays a healthy faith that is characteristic of a loving son who accepts the will of his father, realizing that no matter how bad things may get, his father will be with him during all trials and sufferings. Christian Counseling should emphasize this submission of the will to clients.
With Christ as our ultimate paradigm, we too must accept the will of the father in times of need and despair. Too many times, Christians practice a sick faith that sees suffering and death as punishment for spiritual failures. This results in a probing questioning similar to those at the foot of the cross who demanded a miracle from Christ. “He could save others, but he cannot save himself” they proclaimed as they continued to mock him. How many times do Christians demand a miracle in times of suffering, sickness and death? How many times do Christians become angry at God because he did not produce a miracle for them but for someone else? The cynic proclaims, what good God would pick and choose among his people, but the true of faith, merely respond, “thy will be done”.
In the text, “The Unwanted Gift of Grief”, Dr.VanDuivendyk points out a very true analysis of sick faith versus healthy faith. He states that many see their relationship with God as a contract. In this contract, the faithful turn to God in time of need and offer prayer, sacrifice, and good deeds in turn for favors. This inferior faith attempts to manipulate God and put one’s will above the will of the Father. These individuals demand a miracle due to a contractual binding due to their illusionary ideals on prayer. While psychologically this falls under Kubler-Ross’ third phase of grieving-negotiating, one cannot deny that this type of negotiating results from a lack of good theology. Dr. VanDuivendyk points out that instead of a relationship of contract, one must have a relationship of covenant. A relationship of covenant believes that we are God’s people and he will always love us and guide us to our greater good. Through this covenant, good things and bad things in this temporal reality will result. In the end, we must accept both and carry our crosses, and accept this unwanted gift of grief. God will walk with us in the day and carry us in the night but in the end we must accept his will over our own. As spiritual children we may ask for favors, but in the end we must realize that not all prayers can be answered. Is this fair? Well ask Christ if he thought it was fair when he accepted the will of the Father and carried his cross for the salvation of the world. God does not preach from a pulpit, but through the Incarnation of Christ teaches through example.
Hence a healthy faith accepts the reality of miracles. A healthy faith prays with devotion and fervor.
However, a healthy faith prays not only for favorable outcome, but also the ability to accept the will of the Father and to carry one’s cross. This is the example Christ showed Christians in the garden and this is the proper theological understanding of prayer and miracles during times of hardship. if you want to learn more, please review the Christian Counseling Training Program.
By Mark Moran, MA