Anyway, the subject I'm working on is a challenging one, it's how to counsel or encourage someone who isn't right now experiencing reconciliation of their conflicts. What do you do if the other person never owns up to their wrongs? If you're not forgiven? If you're the victim of serious social injustice or other vicimization?
My goal is to help the sufferer see his or her story as part of God's bigger redemptive story, that some day all of our suffering will be redeemed, even if there is no earthly reconciliation. How do we help people nurture their pain in such a way that God gets glory? How does God's grace continue to hold us in those times? How do we help people live contentedly, mercifully, etc, in the middle of the story?
I decided to take a cue from Ed Welch, who seems to use the wilderness theme in his writing/teaching/counseling very frequently. When I was sitting under him in class, it seemed like no matter the subject (depression, paranoia, anger, discontent), Welch could masterfully help the counselee see him or herself in the experience of the Israelites as they wantered in the desert.
So, I decided to do a quick survey of some of the major vignettes in Exodus, asking two questions: "What is the emotion of the people in this story?" and "What aspect of his character does God reveal to his people in the midst of those emotions?"
Here's some of what I came up with:
- To the captives, God says, "I am your deliverer" (Exod 1-13, esp chapter 6)
- To the slaves, God says, "I am your freedom" (Exod 1-13 again)
- To the prideful and doubtful, God says, "I am your confidence" (Exod 3)
- To the fearful, God says, "I am your salvation" (Exod 14:10-14)
- To the hungry, God says, "I am your provider" (Exod 16)
- To the grumbling, God says, "I am your satisfaction" (Exod 16)
- To the confused, God says, "I am your LORD, and your standard" (Exod 17)
- To the defeated, God says, "I am your banner" (Exod 17-8-16)
- To the discouraged, God says, "You are my treasured possession" (Exod 19:5)
- To the sinful and disobedient, God says, "I am your Holy God" (Exod 19)
- To the uncertain, God says, "I am your covenant keeper" (Exod 24:8, 38:12-19)
- To the idolaters, God says, "I am your atonement" (Exod 32:30)
- To the stiff-necked, God says, "I am your merciful one" (Exod 33:5)
- To the tempted, God says, "I am your better option" (Exod 34:10-16)
- To the lost and wandering, God says, "I am always with you, by day or by night, shining a light for your path and resting my glory over you" (Exod 40:34-38)