Finding Help for a Hurting Heart: A Faith-Based Plan for Meeting Unmet Needs

I. The Pain

The hurt we feel is not really the result of the adverse circumstances or people in our lives, as we may think, but the result of our unmet needs - the normal, in-born, multi-dimensional needs we have that have not been met.

II. The Problem

This means, our pain is not really the problem, but the symptom or result of the problem. Also, the problem is not what is present in our lives that hurts, but what is missing in our lives that helps.

To illustrate: Stress, commonly thought to undermine good health, is not really "the problem." In fact, stress (defined in the dictionary as "a weight or demand") is a good thing! That's why gym weights are heavy.

Instead, the problem is the absence of strength sufficient to support the stress or weight (in which case, the health risk is not stress but "strain").

For example, if a demand is made of a muscle greater than its strength to bear it, it can tear or rupture. So, what we sometimes call a stress fracture of a bone is actually a strain fracture.

Injury, then, is the result of a weight or demand in our lives that is greater than the strength we have to support it. This is true whether it is physical, emotional, financial, or relational.

III. The Provisions

The distinctive principle guiding Christian counseling is that God has provided adequate resources in creation (the soil and atmosphere), community (support relationships in the home and church), and especially Christ (his death for us and his Life in us) to meet every human need - physically, psychologically, and spiritually.

For example, in creation God stored minerals and fuel in the earth, gave fertility to the soil, provided sunshine and rain to maintain geological and other processes, wind and lightning for energy, and placed the earth in relation to the sun at just the precise distance and tilt, as scientists now know, to provide just the right atmosphere - without which life would be impossible.

In his book, "Mistakes God Did Not Make," R.I. Humbred noted that God colored the grass green and the sky blue, instead of red. He placed our eyes on the front of our heads instead of the back. He also put our noses above our mouths so that we can smell the food we eat - before we eat it.

God also vented our noses downward. (Favorite old joke: A man accidently cut his nose off, and it was sown back on upside down. He said he got along okay - except when it rained, he drowned, and when he sneezed, he blew his hat off!)

Also, God created our bodies with the capacity to increase strength through exercise (called "training effect"), to heal from injury and sickness, and to sleep. God also created the family unit in order to meet our affection needs. "It is not good," he said of Adam, "that he remain alone" (Genesis 2:18). The Bible also says, "He puts the lonely in families" (Psalm 68:6).

And, most importantly, God made provisions through Christ to meet our deepest and greatest need, which is spiritual (to experience God). By dying on the cross for us, Christ provided a way for us to go to Heaven. By living his life in us, Christ provided a way for us to be healthy/holy and happy (Romans 5:10).

IV. The Plan

Faith-based Christian counseling discerns the unhappiness (the pain), diagnoses the unmet needs (the problem), discovers appropriate resources for meeting those needs (God's provisions), then develops a strategy for healing (the plan).

Other strategies exist for meeting counseling needs but typically do not identify God's provisions. They are "Plan B" solutions (I call them) which minimize or deny man's fallen human nature, and are based on a strategy of heroic self-efforts to "work on ourselves" (a strategy of striving) with disregard for our need of God's enablement. This means our hope for recovery is, at best, rooted in a position of weakness (our fallen human nature).

Jesus said, "Apart from me, you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

He said, "Come to me, all you who are broken, and I will restore you" (Matthew 11:28 paraphrased).

He also said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in the resources he has provided through me to meet your needs" (John 14:1 paraphrased).

Don Whisnant
The Grace Perspective #505