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Daniel, the book in the Old Testament, contains one of my favorite stories in the bible. Chapter 3 describes this–the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

For those who are not familiar or need a refresher this story is about three Israelites living in captivity under the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar. The empire he ruled was Babylon. A law that he set in motion was for all the people to worship an image of gold by bowing to it after a horn is blown.

So, it happened that the horns blew and the people bowed before this idol. Except for three Jews. See, they worshiped the true God and God does not allow for worship of idols. These men, Sharach, Meshach, and Abendnego refused to bow down even under the pressure and example of those around them.

King Nebuchandnezzar was furious. He demanded they worship this idol or be thrown into a blazing furnace. They refused by giving one of the most faithful rebuttals in all of scripture.

They said, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

There are a number of directions to take this story. The focus I want to give it is the faithfulness and trust in God–no matter the consequence. They were so trusting in the power of God that he could save them from the most dangerous of situations. They were also so dedicated to his service abandoning the faith was not an option, even if God chose not to save them.

What does this mean for us?

There are situations in which we realize the power of God could change our circumstance. Our hopes seem so pure and reasonable. Why doesn’t God let this happen? Or why has God allowed this to happen?

In these instances it is helpful to have the attitude these three people of God had:

Even if my circumstance does not change–I will continue to serve God.

 

Justin P. Lewis, MA

Our society does not accept waiting. In fact, waiting motivates innovators. Finding faster ways of doing things is one of the most advertised selling points. We have fast food, faster internet, etc. Also, our society feels entitled. There are certain things in life we believe we are owed. Neither of these ideas are respected by God.

A theme throughout the bible is faithfulness. God calls Noah to be faithful in building a huge boat. Abraham is to be faithful in waiting for a child, even into old age. In the New Testament a theme of faith in God exists as one of the most important aspects of being Christian. It is listed as a “fruit of the Spirit” in the book of Galatians.

Faithfulness is impossible without waiting. If we got everything we wanted or thought we deserved there would be no need for a faith that God will be our provider. A struggle is that some of these things we have to wait on–or never receive– may even be honorable.

Ultimately, we have to remember our time is not God’s time and God decides how we should be blessed. When we live remembering this we can live more freely. We can be open to serving God in whatever circumstance we find ourselves knowing that God blesses us.

God’s blessings just may not come the way we expect them or when we want them. This is why we must faithfully wait.

 

Justin P. Lewis, MA, LMFT

  1. Pray without ceasing.
  2. Spend 10 minutes everyday reading in the book of Psalms.
  3. Begin each day with 5 minutes of deep, relaxed breathing.
  4. Cut out all non-prescribed stimulants and depressants, especially alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.
  5. Drastically reduce sugar intake.
  6. Exercise 20 minutes every day.
  7. Increase water intake.
  8. Practice “early to bed, early to rise.”
  9. Maintain close bonds with caring people.
  10. Positively recalling difficulties overcome in the past can help encourage feelings of competence and achievement over feelings of helplessness and distress. But do not make it sound as if overcoming trauma is simple.


When the aged, blind patriarch Isaac trembled and cried out in anguish, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me?”, we realize how horrified he was at having been deceived by his son Jacob. The Bible doesn’t reveal if Isaac learned the whole truth, but we, as its readers, know that this incident was the result of Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, instigating the entire debacle. If Isaac did learn of Rebekah’s role, imagine his hurt, anger, disbelief, and disappointment. Talk about fertile soil for a major depressive episode! This was it!

Lies and deception are the antithesis of integrity. And they will cause the foundation of even the strongest of marriages to crumble.

There are numerous books today that discuss ways to affair proof a marriage, but one thing is sure, if both spouses constantly practice integrity with each other, an affair cannot occur. If we act with integrity, friendliness will not cross the line into flirtation, a business lunch will not become a sharing of intimate feelings, admiring how nice looking a coworker is will not digress into wanting to become sexually involved with them, and listening to someone’s problems will not lead to a desire to become romantically involved.

Every husband and every wife must challenge themselves to practice integrity toward their spouse. The survival of the marriage is dependent on it!


Traumatic events either have or will impact all of our lives. Traumas come in many forms and impact all of us with a myriad of symptoms. Traumas are any of life’s events that have the potential to overwhelm us without the assistance from others. The death of a spouse, the death of a child, sudden job loss, rape, sexual abuse, threat of loss of health, disability, abandonment, betrayal or loss of trust, devastation due to storms or fires, divorce systemic loss (child leaves home for college), loss of one of primary senses, and imagined loss or trauma. These are but a few of life’s traumas that can suddenly change our lives, creating an overwhelming presence too difficult with which to cope.

On the evening before Jesus Christ was crucified, he went to a garden to pray. He was accompanied by three of his disciples. He simply asked them to be present while he prayed. He became annoyed when he found that they had gone to sleep. He knew that he was facing a major trauma in his life, his death, and he just wanted them to be there for him. They could do nothing, but their presence was precious to him. On the other hand, in the trials and traumas faced by Job, his three friends offered advice that was not very helpful. The scriptures reveal that God was not happy with the three friends and their words of encouragement. Since there are not sufficient healers in our areas, it is important for all interested parties to know what to do as well as what not to do when trying to assist someone who has been traumatized. Here are a few “do’s and don’ts” to keep in mind when assisting those who have been bewildered by traumatic events.

Do’s

  • Build a relationship that offers hope.
  • Listen without being judgmental.
  • Help them to understand that it is normal to feel the way they do at this time.
  • Affirm their need for crying as normal and healthy.
  • Ask questions that allow their story to be told. Telling the story of the traumatic event relieves the stress of the trauma.
  • Value their story by telling how much that you appreciate them telling you.
  • Make eye contact with the person while they share their story with you. Good eye contact conveys a message without words.
  • Encourage the sharing of thoughts and feelings. Explain how sharing of both aids in their healing.
  • It is ok to ask, “What was the worst part about the event for you?”
  • Be patient!
  • Listen to their story repeatedly if they feel the need to tell it again. Each time the story is told, the hurt is minimized.
  • Tell abut the trauma in a group if it happened to a specific group of people. If done this way, encourage others to be accepting of the one telling their story by listening, words of encouragement, and appropriate touch by those sitting closest to the one telling their story.
  • Remind the story tellers that what is spoken will remain conficdential.

Don’ts

  • Never ask “why” they feel the way they do.
  • Avoid needless challenges of their stories.
  • Avoid, “I know just how you feel,” when in fact you do not.
  • Do not attempt to solve a problem, just listen.
  • Avoid needless questioning for details of your own curiosity when asking questions that encourage them to tell their story.
  • Avoid being judgmental about their expressions. They may tell you who they hate or that they are angry with God.
  • Do not push them to feel something that they are not ready to feel. Avoid telling them how they ought to feel. Avoid statements of “you should” or “you ought to”.
  • Never lecture, just listen. They do not need to hear you, but they need to be heard.
  • Avoid telling your own war stories. They provide less comfort than you may think.
  • Avoid sharing information that has been shared with you by someone else. It diminishes trust and may inhibit others from sharing as openly as needed.
  • Avoid generalizations or statements that may minimize their feelings. Their feelings are their feelings.
  • Avoid needless interruptions or distractions while listening, which may be interpreted as uncaring or lack of interest.



The Bible is full of hurting people and hurting families, many of whom we would now call dysfunctional, and yet most of these people were simply trying to get by the best way they knew possible. One example of this that I have always found intriguing is the story of Abraham and Sarah.
Abraham and Sarah had no children. In their culture this was an intensely severe issue. Without children, Abraham could not pass on his possessions, which meant that unless he gave them to someone else, all of the people Abraham provided for would suddenly be homeless and destitute if Abraham died. However, there is another layer of anxiety found in this story. God had promised them a son, and so far no son had come.
In the book of Genesis there is a moment where this anxiety reaches a climax. Sarah, frustrated by the fact that she was barren, suggested to Abraham that he marry her servant and bear a child through her. To us, this might seem ludicrous or even wrong. Sarah is suggesting to her husband that he take a second wife and bear a child through her. Where is Sarah’s faith? Where is Abraham’s faith? How can these two characters, these two Biblical heroes, act so dysfunctional?
If we read ahead in the story to when the once servant girl has a son, she begins treating Sarah as a second rate woman. Sarah, as the primary wife, confronts Abraham and accuses him of creating the problem. He then responds that the “slave-girl” is Sarah’s problem and that she needs to take care of it. By the time all is said and done, the servant girl is kicked out of the family, with her baby son, and almost dies in the dessert. Things quickly went from bad to worse.
Now even though this seems truly wrong to us, in their own culture, Sarah and Abraham were trying to do the right thing. If Abraham had a son through Sarah’s servant, the child would still be Abraham and Sarah’s. Technically, as far as they knew, God’s promise would be fulfilled. Abraham and Sarah were only doing what they thought was right in a difficult situation. There was nothing illegal or culturally unacceptable about their behavior. And yet, their decision had drastic and long lasting consequences. Eventually, after Sarah had a son of her own, Isaac, she persuaded Abraham to send away his second wife and her son, Ishmael. The next time Abraham’s two sons would meet would be at his funeral. This was truly a family of bruised and hurting people, and understandably so.
The Christian Counseling Center believes this world is still full of bruised and hurting people, people who are doing the best they can with what they have but are given very little support as they go about their lives. The Christian Counseling Center feels called to provide that support, to bring healing and love to people and families. It is their ministry to strengthen families and use the gifts God has given them to accomplish this task.
Sadly the Bible does not answer “what if” questions. We will never know what might have happened if someone had been there to support and help Abraham and Sarah in their time of trial. Maybe the rift that occurred in Abraham and Sarah’s family might not have happened. Maybe Ishmael and Isaac would have grown up together and been the closest of brothers. We cannot change the past, but we can serve in the present, and who knows what futures might take shape? The Christian Counseling Center hopes to participate in creating more hopeful futures for struggling families today.

By Benjamin Gensic, Pulpit Minister for the Farmington Church of Christ

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