Saturday, August 30, 2014

Yodh

Yodh
Your hands have made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.
Those who fear You will be glad when they see me,
Because I have hoped in Your word.
I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort,
According to Your word to Your servant.
Let your tender mercies come to me, that I may live;
For your law is my delight.
Let the proud be ashamed,
For they treated me wrongfully, with falsehood;
But I will meditate on Your precepts.
Let those who fear You turn to me,
Those who know your testimonies.
Let my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes,
That I may not be ashamed.

This portion of Psalm 119 (verses 73-80), is titled "Yodh" in my Bible, and it has been my inspiration as I have studied and trained to become a Biblical counselor. Today, I would like to share with you how this portion of Psalm 119 has encouraged and instructed my progress. 

Your hands have made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.

God made me the way that I am. He formed my personality, provided things throughout my life that shaped my character, and He is still instructing my heart each day, even to the present moment. Daily I ask Him to help me understand His Word, both for my own edification, and for the encouragement and instruction of my counselees and friends.

Those who fear You will be glad when they see me,
Because I have hoped in Your word.

People come to the counseling center hoping to be encouraged in whatever they are walking through today. Few believers seek counseling because they are happy and rejoicing in their trial. They are anxious, fearful, depressed, or sick. Yet, they are believers who love the Lord and fear God. My hope is that, after we have visited a few (sometimes many) times, they will be glad. But I don't want them to be glad because of my words. I want them to be glad because their time with me has helped them to understand his Word, and to apply it to their circumstance. I want my hope in the Word and promises of God to be highly contagious, so that they begin to "catch" it, too.

I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.

This line is key to my effectiveness as a biblical counselor. If I do not know for sure that my affliction is for my good and His glory, and that it is a sign of His faithfulness to me, I will never convince my counselee of it. The Lord has ordained my affliction in order to make me more like His precious Son. When I am more like Him, I will be able to bring glory to God, which is the very reason I was created (Isaiah 43:7)! I must be able to show my counselee from Scripture that God has a purpose in her suffering, and that He is faithful.

Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort,
According to Your word to Your servant.

Again, if I am to persuade my counselee that God is merciful and kind, I must be able to show her this truth from the Scriptures. Regardless of her trial, God's Word has promised that He will comfort and keep her through it. Even a cursory glance through the Psalms will show her this truth. 

Let your tender mercies come to me, that I may live;
For your law is my delight.

Counselees are not typically delighting in God's law when they come for the first time. They are discouraged, frustrated, and sometimes angry at God. But, if they do not begin to see God's hand and His mercy in their circumstance, that will not change. Though He is faithful when we are not, He does bring circumstances for our discipline and growth. He desires a response that begins to change from discouragement to delight. This is the very heart of counseling. This is where my own testimony comes to bear on our relationship. When I share my story of pain, suffering, and loss, I make sure they see God's mercies in  it, as I have. Together, we begin to see how God's law truly can be our delight once again.

Let the proud be ashamed,
For they treated me wrongfully, with falsehood;
But I will meditate on Your precepts.

Many of our counselees have come for help because they have been treated wrongfully. They have been hurt by someone who sinned against them. Virtually all sin is rooted in pride, and David pretty much covers all sinners by referring to them as "the proud." Though they may never have shame in their behavior, the believer can learn to respond rightly, by meditating on God's precepts rather than being angry or bitter.

Let those who fear You turn to me,
Those who know your testimonies.

Most people who come for biblical counseling are at least professing believers. They fear God, yet they need someplace to turn to help them apply His Word in their trial. Though it is often a last resort, those who fear God will come for biblical counseling precisely because they know His testimonies, and they need help with application.

Let my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes,
That I may not be ashamed.

Though I know of course that I will never be without sin in this life, my desire is to follow Christ as closely as I can. I must continually plead with the Lord that His Spirit would help me to escape temptation toward sinful attitudes and actions. Though we are all hypocrites, I must never come to a counseling or discipling opportunity knowing that there is unconfessed, willful sin in my life. My prayer is that the Lord will reveal to me my sin so that I confess, repent, and come to this role unashamed.

I continue to be inspired by all of God's Word, but this little gem, tucked away in the middle of the longest of the Psalms, has been special to me. What Scripture inspires you most? What is your go-to passage for encouragement and help?