If the Old Testament Saints Had Been in Therapy
by Cris Corzine-McCloskey
The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people…go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation…” ~ Genesis 12:1-2
Recently I have been thinking a lot about what it must have been like for the people in the Bible when they were living out their stories. We read their narratives in a matter of minutes, but for those very real people, their lives and the promises of God took years, even decades to unfold. What must that have been like for them? As I thought about them my mind wandered to the clients I have and how insurmountable many of their problems seem. I bet it was the same way for the Saints of Old.
Just think what it must have been like for Abraham. Before anyone knew there was one true God, he started hearing the voice of God, and God was telling him to do some pretty weird things and making some outrageous promises. Abraham (at that time Abram) was an old man who never had children. He was established and comfortable surrounded by family and friends. He had servants, so he must have had a few bucks saved. Then, he hears a voice that tells him to pack up, leave everyone behind, go to an unknown destiny, and he was going to start his own family that would become a great nation. I don’t know about you, but had I been Abraham’s therapist, this would have raised some serious red flags for me. Hearing voices and illusions of grandeur… must be schizophrenia!
Even if I had bought in to his belief, about the time he hit the years of waiting for fulfillment, I probably would have been feeling pity for him and wondering if he had really heard from God. If he had a church family, his well-meaning friends may have been asking him if he had unconfessed sin. After all, hadn’t he lied about his wife…twice?! Surely that must have nullified God’s promises! What about unforgiveness he needed to deal with? Had he been tithing?
How about Joseph? I have tried to imagine at what point Joseph would have sought counseling. God literally knows the incident with his brothers would have been enough baggage to send most of us to a therapist’s couch, but then to finally be getting his life back together at Potiphar’s house only to catch a rape charge and be thrown in prison! That would have done me in. I have pondered what I would have thought had I been counseling Joseph, and I imagine somewhere in his story I would have been thinking, “Man, this guy just can’t catch a break!” I am sure I would have been praying for him, praying for God’s favor, praying his circumstances change, praying God would remember him…maybe even praying that God would show Joseph what he was doing wrong. As a grace counselor I am embarrassed to admit that would have even crossed my mind, but viewing Joseph’s story without knowing the end…yeah, I may have gone there.
If you are thinking to yourself that Joseph and Abraham were men of faith, and never would have needed the kind of help a Christian therapist might offer, how about Naomi? Poor Naomi! I hurt for her every time I read her story in the book of Ruth. She would have ended up on the Dr. Phil show if she lived today, and the audience would have sobbed through her recounting of following her husband and sons to a foreign land, only to have them all end up dead. No wonder she changed her name to Bitter (Marah) and thought God had deserted her. You can’t tell me she would not have been a candidate for therapy. Naomi clearly believed that God was out to get her, and her life, prior to Ruth meeting Boaz, would have appeared to validate that.
And how about David? I love David. He is a Christian therapist’s dream, because even the most cursory glance through Psalms shows that David was a man with moods…big moods and big emotions! One moment he would be praising God, the next he would be asking when God would remember him. If he had a secular therapist they probably would have labeled him bi-polar and recommended a mood stabilizer, where a Christian Therapist may have counseled him that he needed to trust God more, fast and pray. The standard Christian answer for everything! Yet God called him a man after His own heart, and loved David’s raw emotion and the intensity of his prayer life.
In summation, I have learned a few things from viewing these Saints of Old and thinking about what it would have been like to have them on my couch. The biggest thing I have learned is that I have made God too small and problems and circumstances way too big. I would not have gotten it right with any of them, because I am not always a big picture thinker when it comes to the promises of God. But I think He is calling me to think expand my thinking. In the meantime, just think, if your story were written in the Bible, maybe things would be looking pretty bleak right now, but the Author of the Universe may just be getting ready to pen a miraculous breakthrough and change everything!