Even though I love being a professional counselor, I would dread every session if it weren’t for the fact that I belong to the Wonderful Counselor. Let me explain. My job is to sit, hour upon hour, with people who are hurting. To be honest, much of the time, I feel powerless. It’s not that I haven’t received excellent training, because I have. And it’s not that I’ve stopped growing in my expertise, because I continue to work hard on that. It’s just that I am painfully aware of my own limitations and of the limitations of my clients. Fortunately, I am even more aware of the presence and power of Jesus Christ. I am never alone in the therapy room. The Holy Spirit is there with me, leading, guiding.
For decades, researchers have wondered what exactly contributes to successful outcomes in therapy. Meta-analyses have shown that there are basically four common factors that determine whether people are able to achieve their goals in counseling. The biggest factor (40%) has nothing to do with what happens in counseling at all. It’s about all the other stuff, like who and what fill our worlds and whether we have access to what we need. The next biggest factor (30%) is about the relationship between the counselor and the client. The best therapeutic relationships are characterized by honesty, empathy, and unconditional acceptance. Good science reveals the truth, so I am not surprised that what a bunch of researchers found mirrors who the Wonderful Counselor is.
First, Jesus cares about who and what fill our worlds. From the very beginning, God pronounced, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). Even though Adam enjoyed fellowship with God, it was still not good for Adam to be alone. We need other people who are suitable to help us. This is why c|Life’s mission is “connecting people to God and one another.” God has never stopped gifting his children with people who are suitable to help them. Today is an opportunity to take stock: are you filling your world with suitable helpers? If so, gratitude toward God is the proper response. If not, it may be time to begin aligning yourself with the Wonderful Counselor’s plan for your life.
Second, and I believe most importantly of all, Jesus embodies every single characteristic of healthy relationships. He is trustworthy because he is unfailingly honest. Whether talking with a single rich young ruler (Matthew 19:21–22) or an entire crowd of adoring fans (Luke 14:33), Jesus spoke the truth, knowing it meant losing followers. He is also empathetic. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus is our great high priest who sympathizes with our weaknesses because he has been tempted as we are tempted, yet without sin. This is why we can draw near to the throne of grace. We can pull up a chair with our Wonderful Counselor because he allowed himself to experience the pain we feel. He understands, and he cares.
And of course, Jesus is the embodiment of unconditional acceptance. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6–8). The Wonderful Counselor doesn’t wait until we are worthy of his care and attention. Instead, he accepts each of us at our very worst. There has never been a counselor like Jesus, and there will never be one who can come close to his honesty, empathy, and unconditional acceptance. Draw near to the Wonderful Counselor. You don’t need an appointment. He always makes space just for you!