Do you think of biblical or Christian counseling mainly as something to pursue when you’re in a personal crisis? Do you think of it primarily as designed to help with emotional, mental health, or relational struggles? While those can all be benefits, counseling can also be an unexpected resource for discipleship and for strengthening your faith.
Our faith can be tested by many everyday questions and challenges. Believers wisely seek answers to their doubts and questions about God in prayer, Bible reading, and their church communities. But God can also use counseling to strengthen you in the following four ways.
1. Counseling can provide deeper understanding.
When you meet with a biblical or Christian counselor, you open an avenue for gaining a deeper understanding of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and of how they affect your relationship with God. A trained counselor can help you identify patterns of thinking and behaviors that may be contributing to your faith struggles. She assists with making the necessary connections between your personal history, current struggles, and God’s Word.
As a counselor, I’ve found exploring biblical examples of other believers (psalmists, prophets, apostles, and Christians) who struggled with their faith honestly before the Lord to be helpful for those wrestling with weak faith. By considering your unique struggles, a counselor can help you engage with God more personally.
2. Counseling can provide a safe place to express doubts and questions.
Every Christian has doubts, but knowing who to talk to about our doubts can be tricky. Some find it difficult to talk to others in their church or small group for fear they’ll dismiss the doubts or jump to conclusions. You may feel shame just for having doubts. Church leaders can especially struggle because others see having confidence in God as part of their job description.
A trained counselor can help you identify patterns of thinking and behaviors that may be contributing to your faith struggles.
Finding a safe, confidential place where you can vocalize doubts and wrestle with questions without judgment is a first step toward getting through seasons of doubt. When you talk with a counselor who is anchored in the truth of Scripture, he can help you confidently pour out your heart to God (Ps. 62:8) and gain the courage to share your struggles or honestly confess your failings with others without fear (James 5:16).
3. Counseling can teach us how God uses others to increase faith.
Struggling with doubts can lead to isolation. When you see others who appear to be thriving, you feel alone. But Christianity is a faith built on community, connection, and bearing one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). God can use counseling to allow you to experience the patience and encouragement of another person during seasons of doubt (1 Thess. 5:14). In turn, you’re better equipped to understand others and offer support in similar ways.
The spiritual support you receive in counseling reminds you God is at work amid your days of doubt. God can use this to increase your faith and strengthen bonds of community and belonging. You were never meant to live life alone. You need others, and others need you.
4. Counseling can promote a fresh vision for the gospel.
Exploring your questions about God’s plan for your life with a faithful, believing counselor can be a means to anchor your heart to God’s good news. As you grasp God’s redeeming work through Jesus and gain confidence in the Spirit’s transforming power, you’ll want others to experience it as well (Acts 1:8). Through the gospel, God offers us grace for our doubts and his Son, our Savior, for our troubled world (John 16:33). This compels you to share the good news of Jesus with others who are searching for answers and lasting hope.
Exploring your questions about God’s plan for your life with a faithful, believing counselor can be a means to anchor your heart to God’s good news.
James writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (1:2–4)
Life is full of challenges, and it can be difficult to find the strength and resilience we need to overcome them when our faith is faltering. But counseling is a valuable resource and a pathway to joy in seasons when your faith is weak.
When you engage in counseling that’s rooted in biblical truth, not only is your faith strengthened but you become better equipped to serve God and love others who may also be struggling with their faith.