Being Distracted by Symptoms
Many times when people come to us for help, they will share a specific issue that they believe is the major source of their problems. If this issue could be effectively dealt with, their lives would be considerably better. These issues might include such things as anger, fear or anxiety, depression, hopelessness, relationship conflicts, obsessions or compulsions, bitterness or unforgiveness, problems with intimacy, or addictions. What is often overlooked is the fact that the issue we’re struggling with is only a symptom of a deeper issue. If God simply changed or took away the symptom, the real issue would still remain within us.
My Own Experience
I (Jerry) remember many years ago when I sought help from a Christian counselor and I was quite sure I knew the primary source of my problems. I thought I had it figured out! It only took a short while for this astute and godly man to share his opinion as to the core of my own issues, and you guessed it—his assessment was different than mine! Although I was surprised at first, I opened my heart and my mind and yielded to what he was saying. His initial evaluation proved to be accurate. It wasn’t that my initial assessment of myself was totally invalid. It just wasn’t the primary or most important issue to deal with. If I had insisted on being “right” in that situation, my own healing would have been delayed. I never forgot the lesson I learned regarding how little we truly know of the deeper things of our own hearts and how important it is to receive godly wisdom and insight.
Revealing the Deeper Need—The Woman at the Well
Although Jesus dealt directly with the issues that came before Him during His ministry, He often would go beneath the issue at hand to reveal the deeper truth of the situation or problem. For example, when He dealt with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-26), He didn’t focus on the issue of her sin–having had five husbands and now living with a man to whom she was not married—but rather He shared His heart regarding worship and the gift of life that was available to her. Yes, He did point out the truth of her past and the issue at hand, but He did so in a way that allowed her to reflect on her own situation—and He did this by the revelation He received from the Father. He didn’t call her to repent. He didn’t share the plan of salvation. He didn’t pray with her. He shared from His own heart and it revealed hers. From that place she responded with passion to share this good news with everyone in the town.
We Cannot Ignore the Issue at Hand
As we ask the Lord to help us see the deeper and most important issues in our relationships with others, we do not ignore the issues or symptoms at hand. In some cases the current issue that is up front may be destructive to the person or to others (i.e. severe anger issues, substance addictions, abuse of different types) and appropriate boundaries or safeguards must be put in place. Even if the symptom or issue up front seems to have been resolved, the real issue behind the problem behavior usually still remains and will inevitably surface again if not addressed.
Father I want to know Your heart more and to respond to others from that place. Please help me see how my own words and actions sometimes reveal the issues in my heart that need Your healing touch. Help me to receive this input from others that You have placed in my life. As I allow You to work in my own heart, please help me to see the deeper issues in the hearts of those around me. Help me to walk as You did—full of grace and full of truth. Give me Your eyes to see, Your ears to hear, and Your heart to understand—all for Your glory and the restoration and reconciliation of those You love.
Until next week . . .
NOTE: If you or someone you know is in need of finding a safe place for emotional and/or spiritual healing and restoration, please contact us at The Father’s Heart Intensive Christian Counseling Ministry through our web site at www.fathersheart.com or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
We are located in the North Georgia Mountains in a retreat-oriented environment and have established opportunities for ministry to individuals or couples for time periods as little as a few hours to as long as five days.