If you are a person that other's gravitate toward for help and assistance in solving life's problems you already know that people come with a variety of problems. Contrary to popular thinking, the greatest need of a counselee is not always an answer to their problem! Rather, the greatest need is to learn to interprit their problems from a biblical perspective (1 Cor. 10:13). We all need consistant reminders that our problems are not unique, but common to man.
We need those reminders that God has His finger on the pulse of our everyday lives and nothing escapes His notice. He is intimately aware of our trials and our triumphs and He knows the end of every story. That alone is encouraging! When things seem hopeless to me and the problems appear to be greater than any possible solution I am very comforted by the truth that God is sovereign and in charge. God knows the way through our trials and aches and difficult circumstances.
Our problems multiply as we try to get around God's truth and God's way for dealing with our stuff and label our sin as something other than sin. We seek to legitimize it, put a decent face on it, and gain sympathy and understanding from others as a result of it.
To help others (or ourselves) we have to ask the right questions if we want to arrive at the right conclusions. A right question would be, "Is this some dysfunction or mental illness, or is it an outflow of some sin I am involved in?" Much of the stuff labeled with psychiatric terminology is the result of unrepentant sin in a person's life. Just for a few examples, let's look at the label "addictive personality disorder." The Bible would call it idolatry because one person is worshiping another or they are worshiping the created thing rather than the Creator. The person who is said to have "intermittant explosive disorder" is actually struggling with sinful anger! Having the biblical persepective on our problems is the best place to start.
Rather than thinking there is no hope in a given situation, we must reorient our thoughts Godward and ask questions like, "Where is God in my trial?" or "How does God see this situation or circumstance?"
So often we believe we need things or a particular person to make us happy or to fix our circumstances. We must begin to ask ourselves what our true need is as we walk through the valley of suffering. The only answer is that God is enough in every trial and every sorrow.
Lest you think that I speak glibly about this I want to assure you that I have endured severe trials of my own in which I had to practice what I preach! The most difficult part of this is to deny myself the immediate relief that comes with bowing before whatever worthless idol I set up to meet my felt needs. Like everyone else, I have succumbed to pragmatism from time to time. I have sought my own way trying quick fixes just be done with the problems because I believed I could not stand it any longer!
All that resulted from those attempts at circumventing the lessons in God's classroom was a return trip at a later date and time. God intends that we build character in these valleys, and that we experience growth in character and Christ-likeness as a result of the lessons learned. He also is imparting wisdom and discernment to us along the way.
This is the reason we have to begin with the right questions that are centered around God and His Word. To begin anywhere else will bring us to the wrong conclusions and lead us off-course.