“The LORD delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.” – Psalm 147:11
Now that we understand the need for us to deal with sin upfront and in a biblical manner we are going to take an in-depth look at hope in Biblical Counseling. The next several posts will be detailed to look directly at the topic of hope and how it relates to and applies in Biblical Counseling. To begin our discussion on hope we are going take a big-picture look at mankind’s hopelessness. This will allow us to really dig to the heart of Biblical Counseling and help us see the necessity and importance of biblical hope. In Biblical Counseling, hope is perhaps the most vital and necessary truth to be conveyed to a counselee. To emphasize this, I will say it again: Giving the person you counsel hope is one of the most vital and necessary things you can do. Hope destroys despair and discouragement and allows the chance for real change to take place.
(I) A World without Hope: As we can all recognize, we live in a hopeless world. Our world is constantly searching for hope but never finding it. Hope is sought for in drugs, hope is sought for in relationships, and hope is sought for in family. People search for hope in financial security, people search for hope in possessions, people search for hope in their dwelling places. Many people hope in government, they hope in law enforcement, they hope in those who rule our world, presidents, prime-ministers, kings, queens, and others. Countless other people hope in doctors and nurses, they hope in the medical system, they hope in psychologists and psychiatrists, and anyone who promises to take their problems and pain away. Hope in all these things is a useless hope. Hope in anything on this world is a failing hope and we can see that evidenced by people who search for hope in these things. Ask yourself, “Do they ever find satisfaction?” “Do they ever come to a place of contentment?” “Is there hope fulfilled, is it secure, it is something they can totally and unfailingly trust in?” The answer is no every single time. In this world you can’t really hope. You can only hope-for. You hope for your team to win, you hope the weather is nice, you hope your children are safe, you hope the police maintain law and order, you hope that your surgery goes well, you hope that someone will love you, you hope that someone will be able to help you solve your pain and make your problems go away. You see, all this type of hope is merely a ‘hope-for’ hope. It is not guaranteed, it is not secure. It could happen, but it might not happen. This is our world, a world that is completely without true hope. This is why the people of our world need hope and they need it desperately. How can we communicate a true hope, a lasting hope, and a guaranteed hope to this world?
(II) You must Remove False Hope: Before you can instill biblical hope in any person that you are trying to counsel and encourage you must remove the false hope that they have. False hope, is hope placed in any of the things listed above or anything else that one might hope in that is of this world (1 John 2:17). False hope is looking to the things of this world for salvation from whatever one is going through. False hope is a hope that is placing in anything that is less than a guarantee. If you are hoping in something that you know has the possibility to fail you, you have a false hope. False hope can also be given to people by others who are trying to deceive them into thinking that they have the answers. Many people in our world have been fed a healthy dose of false hope from the Psychologists and Psychiatrists who excuse away sin as ‘mental illness’ and tell their clients that it may take years before they are ever back to normal again. What is tragic about this is that people buy into it, and instead of dealing with their sins, they are allowed to live in them, thus propagating a life of rebellion against God and slowly and steadily losing all hope. Because their hope is directed to a doctor, the medical system, pills, or therapy, they try to find in those things hope to change, hope to come out of their depression, hope to control their emotions, hope to deal with their life and its problems. But hope for change can never be found there. Hope, as we will see can only be found in the transforming power of the gospel because of the work of Jesus Christ.
(III) You must Instill Biblical Hope: For this reason it is vital, it is necessary, and it is mandatory that all Biblical Counseling and discipleship takes the time to instill the hope of Christ and His Word in the lives of those whom one counsels. Because our world is so hopeless, we need to be people who minister the world of God to others by giving them hope. We see this pattern set for us by God as he interacts with the first man who ever sinned. After Adam and Eve sinned (Gen. 3:6-7), God Himself came and confronted them in their sin (3:9-13). God first exposed their sin (3:11) and then challenged them in it. He also gives to them what the consequences of their fatal actions would be (16-19) explaining that sin always has a price. In this case the price to be paid was death both physical and spiritual (Unless they would repent). But even amidst the seriousness and the negativity of the sin that Adam and Eve committed, the Lord God gave them hope. In Genesis 3:15 he says to the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel.” God gave Adam and Eve hope that in the future there would be one who would make wrong things right. God always gives people who are caught in sin hope, because with Him alone there is true hope to be found!
Therefore it is necessary for the Christian counselor to always give hope to the person that they are counseling. There is always hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ. No matter what the sin, no matter what the deed, no matter how high-handed the rebellion was against God, no man is in a place where he cannot be forgiven by God. Unfortunately, even in the church today there are many people who think that they are beyond the forgiveness of God, they are beyond the hope of change, and they are beyond the ability to become like Christ. This is not the case. If they are people who are willing to confess their sins, repent of them, and begin following after the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ then there is great hope for change!