For my COUN 601 Marriage and Family Therapy I class we had to write about our Christian worldview of pathology, family, and cure. Here is what I came up with -- I would love to hear feedback from others on how you view these concepts.
From my perspective, within a Christian worldview, pathology occurs from a variety of sources including physiology/biology; negativity; sin; ineffective, illogical, or incorrect thoughts and self talk; a lack of connection to God; or a prodding for change from God through life lessons. Clients may suffer from one or more of these sources of dysfunction. To treat a client only based upon part of such causes of pathology is insufficient and will be ineffective. In an effort to provide holistic treatment, all causes need to be evaluated and addressed.
I believe there are several ways to define family. From a counseling standpoint, a family could be defined as the multi-generational connections between one person and his or her ancestors and descendants; or it could also simply relate to oneâ€™s immediate family. From a Christian worldview we have similar distinctions for family; however, we also have the added concept of being a member of the family of God. Romans 8: 29-30 (NLT) states:
29 For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like His Son, so that His Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.Â 30 And having chosen them, He called them to come to Him. And having called them, He gave them right standing with Himself. And having given them right standing, He gave them His glory.
For me, this is the epitome of family in Christianity. We were created by God to be His children, to be brothers and sisters to Godâ€™s only begotten Son, Jesus. In counseling clients, I believe all of these definitions of family must be kept in mind. It requires seeing an interrelatedness between all people, and a sense of care for individuals as a part of oneâ€™s own family.
Cure is a wonderful word, yet can be quite elusive to achieve. It is traditionally thought of as removal or relief from an illness or plague. I believe many times there are actions that can be taken to cure a dysfunction or illness once and for all, yet some cases may be incurable on this earth. In such undesirable cases where a cure is not attainable, then education of coping skills, faith building, discipleship, and/or medication can help to provide more optimum health.
In 2 Corinthians 12 (New Living Translation, NLT), the apostle Paul explains he is plagued by what he terms a thorn. This thorn is a problem, obstacle, or hindrance that is not specified in the Bible, but it clearly causes Paul great anguish. God did not remove this thorn at Paul's request, and Paul comes to view its persistence as a way of keeping him humble.
I believe God has other reasons than creating humbleness for the thorns in our lives. Through our thorns we can gain a special empathy which can guide people to be able to help others heal. These thorns also give us vantage points we would never recognize were we fully whole beings. God has also given us free-will to make choices, but since humans are innately sinful, sometimes those choices have unpleasant consequences. It is through these consequences that God can shape and mold us giving us personal choice yet directing us to yield that choice to match His will.
Free-will can prevent God from giving a miraculous cure. Romans 8: 26-28 (NLT) discusses how the Holy Spirit can help us in our weaknesses, even when we cannot find the utterances ourselves, and that God can turn all things to His glory. The key here is explained in Romans 8: 27-30 (NLT), that by drawing closer to God, and working to radiate Jesusâ€™ life in our own lives we can surpass the trials and tribulations of this world to attain Glory in heaven.
Just as the Apostle Paul had a thorn in his side which God would not remove, people may have life-long issues they must deal with which could relate to their genetic make up, their choices, or the choices others have made on their behalf. God does not make any mistakes, and though people may not understand why He would not supply a cure, we must trust He has a plan. In Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) it states: â€œâ€˜For I know the plans I have for you,â€™ says the Lord. â€˜They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.â€™â€ Cure is a wonderful word, but it is not something that comes to all people for all situations. In cases where a cure is not possible, it is important to rely on the Holy Spirit to utter those words we cannot even imagine on our behalf and never give up hope. Draw close to God, and seek to become more like Jesus. A cure may never come on this earth, however, humbleness and peace may come in its stead.
Monica Kennedy is a graduate student in the Professional Counseling program at Liberty University; a program which integrates psychology and Christianity to provide holistic care for individuals throughout the life cycle. Her goal as a Licensed Professional Counselor is to provide hope to clients for yesterday, today, and the future. Monica is a student member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), serves as an online student representative for Liberty University's AACC Student Leadership Team, and is the Leader of the AACC at LU Online Service Team.