pain before comfort – gospel counseling!

I have been reading and re-reading James.  I have also been trying to do some gospel-counseling.  Imagine with me if James were your counselor to whom you brought a weakness-sin-struggle.  My gut tells me that his response would eventually lead to comfort, but it would start with acute pain!  Check out this call to go straight into the bottom of the well and so find him who “gives more grace.” 

“Be wretched and mourn and weep.  Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.”  – James 4:9-10

Love it.  Sometimes my problem is that when I have sinned against my kids or Kori, or when I have pridefully not listened but talked incessantly, or when I have fallen prey to unproductive self-pleasing idleness – whenever I struggle with my inumerable weaknesses, I push them aside and just go on laughing and existing undeterred.  What counsel James gives!  I should rather run with naked abandon into the place where I am humbled by the honest disgust of my sin; or just the honest reality of the Fall in and around me! 

SO, next time I come to you (my friends) with this pithy look on my face evidencing I am coasting and coexisting with issues of struggle – look me square in the eye and say – Jim, be wretched.  Mourn.  Weep.  Don’t laugh.  Don’t be happy.  Try on some gloom.  It’ll be the beautiful word of the hour because I might actually still my proud and casual heart into a place of humility – and there experience the glorious, gracious exaltation of a repentant sinner who experienced more grace once again. “But he gives more grace”(James 4:6).


3 thoughts on “pain before comfort – gospel counseling!

  1. Sarah B says:

    I ask not because I disagree with you (or James) but because someone will ask me and I should always have an answer for everything …

    How does this fit in with the Christian Hedonism that Pastor Kinyon mentioned a while ago? With glorifying God by enjoying him? Is it enjoying him from in that humble place of being wreched? Kind of like enjoying the burning in your lungs after beating the opposing team to the ball and getting it upfield? The joy comes after the pain? (Now that I reread this it seems like that is what your last sentence is alluding to).

    I hope this question doesn’t deter you from weeping, because now that I think about it, there is a cleansing sort of enjoyment in true tears. Does that sound masochistic?

    Hmmm, lots to ponder today, Jim.

  2. weakchristian says:

    Intersting question – “Is it enjoying him from that humble place of being wretched?”

    Sarah my sister… you know me well enough to know my pride and self-sufficient attitude. Guess what – I don’t do very well at enjoying God and only God (i.e. glorifying Him alone) when I think high of myself in any way – because then I like to enjoy myself. So I guess the way the two relate, at least for me, is that in being wretched, mourning and weeping over the things that should humble me, I quit enjoying ME and begin searching for something outside of me that I can enjoy. There is only 1 thing. The God who would redeem even a wretch like me.

    That’s my take on the two ideas, anyway. Maybe I’m twisted, but perhaps the flip side of my journey into Christian hedonism (if I really pursue pleasure I will end up at the Highest Pleasure which is God’s glory) is the journey into masochism (if I really journey down into the horror of my weakness I will end up at the High place of God’s glory just the same)!

  3. Jim I’ve been reading your blog all week and just want to say I love the transparency. No questions, just had to let you know that. Your about as down to earth and truthful about yourself as anyone I know.

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