How to personalize Psalm 23 to Your Counselees.
Another passage, very, very familiar, you can take a counselee through, is Psalm 23. I think I have an outline for that, as well. I’m not gonna go through that one in as much detail. Psalm 23 is different, Jeremiah 17, somebody, a counselee ask you to, you ask a counselee to turn to Jeremiah, they sometimes have to look in the index of their Bible, they don’t know much about it, but everybody knows the 23rd Psalm. And if you are a believer, this is true of you. And if you are living in fear, it’s because you’ve lost sight of the fact that God is your shepherd. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. He guides me on the paths of righteousness for His namesake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Death, I fear no evil for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You have anointed my head with oil. My cup overflows. Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” And you don’t just read this psalm. But you take your counselee through the psalm.
And is they are fearful, again it’s not about changing the circumstances, it’s about recognizing that, right now, the Lord is your shepherd. He does care for you. He is the one who is taking responsibility to feed you, to meet your needs, to help you to get through the evil time. And as we understand Him in this way, as we trust Him in this way, then we have hope. Now, when people are dealing with fear, I think it’s also important that we be honest and realistic. We can’t tell people everything’s gonna be fine and easy in this life. We can’t tell people that the thing you fear won’t happen to you. What you can tell them is, that if you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, this I can promise you, the Lord will be with you through that. And He will sustain you, and perhaps that will draw you closer to Him, than walking through the green pastures ever would have.
And there’s an interesting, and in Hebrews, chapter 11, and you have this contrast at the end of the chapter. You know, I’m sure, the context of Hebrews 11, where you have different people of faith and at the end, he goes into summary mode, in verse 32, what more shall I say, time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel, and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in battle, put foreign armies to flight, women receive back their dead by resurrection. Okay, so far so good. I’d like to be on that list, please. It’s describing people who had faith in God won all these amazing victories. And that’s true, but then, He doesn’t stop there. He then says, others were tortured, not accepting their relief, so they might attain a better resurrection. Others experienced mockings and scourgings, chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with a sword, went about in sheepskins, goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated. Men of whom the world was not worthy, wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. All of these having gained approval through their faith did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us, they would not, they would not be made perfect. Sometimes, it may be God’s purpose, His sovereign purpose to let you suffer the thing of which you are afraid, but what you can be sure of, is God will be with you through that, as well. We can’t say everything’s gonna be fine. That, yes, the tests are gonna prove to be negative, and you didn’t show, after all, you don’t have that dread disease. And everybody in your life that’s messed up is gonna turn around. Or that you’re not gonna suffer in other ways, but God will be with you through it. As you trust in Him. Your faith does not have to fail.
When you’re counseling people who are fearful, you want to ask questions. Again, what is the counselee, of what is he afraid? Or she afraid? People, calamity, Why are you afraid? Past abuse, you know, people afraid in relationships, to really open themselves up and give themselves to somebody else. You know, a woman in marriage, perhaps she’s been abused in the past and so it’s hard for her to open herself up to her husband. Or like I mentioned, the lady who had caught something when she was younger, in a bathroom, and fearful because of these things that have happened. Or maybe what’s happened to others. There’s a lady I counseled who had a friend who got cancer young. And then she reads about others who have this and so she becomes overwhelmed with fear that it might happen to her. And she’s consumed with fear that she might die while her children are still young. What is the counselee’s view of God? Does she see that God is an indifferent capricious divine being ready to shoot arrows down or just impersonal? Or does she recognize both His sovereignness, sovereignty and His goodness? There are mysteries there, and we have to declare the sovereignty of God and the mystery of his ways. We don’t know why He’s doing what He’s doing, but that’s where you go back to Christ is the good shepherd. He lays down His life for the sheep. And the Lord is our shepherd and he cares for us. And we need to have a right view of God.
Homework for Those Who Fear.
Homework, a lot of the assignments for worry are similar for fear. Learning to trust God. Focusing upon what would God have you to do? This is case where Bible memory can be really helpful. Memorizing, I’ve had counselees memorize Jeremiah 17 verses five through eight, and when their hearts are troubled, to go over that in their mind and apply it to themselves. Memorize the 23rd Psalm. Keeping a journal of not just when they fear and why they fear, but steps they can take, or did take, to overcome the fear. Lots of good things to read, I mentioned the OCD booklet, I think it’s a very helpful little summary especially if you haven’t had to deal with that very much. When you run into somebody who’s OCD. I thought it does a very good job by Michael Emlet. Jay Adams has a little pamphlet. Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book I’ve mentioned already Overcoming Fear, Worry and Anxiety. Wayne Mack has a book called The Fear Factor. And then we also have audios that cover some of the same material. And Wayne Mack, as always, has something in his homework manual for biblical living. And there are also some worksheets in your syllabus, as well.