“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor…” Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)
For a large chunk of my life, I’ll be honest, I snubbed my nose at counseling. As a young person, I went to counseling because my mom got remarried when I was 12, and she thought going to counseling as a family was a good idea. She was probably right, but at the time, I thought it was the dumbest thing ever. You could chalk my attitude up to pre-teen angst, but that sentiment didn’t really go away as I got older. As I moved into my 20’s and “matured”, I started to see the value in counseling, but only for other people. You know people who had experienced intense trauma, or struggled with a severe mental illness, or just couldn’t “get their life together”. But, I didn’t have any of those issues so counseling was of no benefit to me. I mean my life wasn’t perfect, but what little things I did have going on, I could take care of myself, I didn’t need to sit across from someone and talk about them. The problem with that attitude was that I was missing out so much on the richness of the counseling experience plus, I didn’t know how to handle the scriptures that talked about Jesus being our counselor.
What is the actual definition of counseling? The English Language Learners Dictionary says it’s “advice and support that is given to people to help them deal with problems, make important decisions, etc.” So, by definition a counselor is someone who is trained to give advice and support to people who need help overcoming a problem in life or who need guidance in making important decisions. Herein lies the crux of my issue with counseling, I was neither self-aware enough to believe I had any problems nor humble enough to believe that I needed help in making decisions. That my friends is pride. If I don’t need earthly counselors in my life, why in heck would I need to lean on Jesus to be my Wonderful Counselor?
What does Isaiah mean when he calls the prophesied Jesus, Wonderful Counselor? In ancient Israel, the term counselor was used synonymously with a wise king who gives guidance to his people. Isaiah was saying that when the Messiah came, one of the offices he would hold was that of a wise counselor who gives advice to his people. Human counselors are not only specifically trained, but they are often born with a keen sense of observation which uniquely gifts then to give wise advice and support. But, Jesus, given the fact that he is not only fully man, but also fully God, can give counsel in a way no earthly counselor ever could. In Christ is “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3), including the knowledge of all human nature (Psalm 139:1–2). Jesus always knows what we are going through, and He always knows the right course of action (Hebrews 4:15–16).
As our Wonderful Counselor, we can trust Jesus to listen to our problems and guide us in the right direction when making decisions. He is always listening and he tells us to come to him in prayer with everything we have going on. He also always has our best interest at heart, because he loves us more than we’ll ever know.
Back to my story, my first step in regards to seeing the importance of counseling, was to repent of my pride and see Jesus as my Wonderful Counselor. Next, I needed to learn that I did have problems that I couldn’t fix on my own, and I needed to bring them to Jesus in order to receive his guidance and instruction. I also needed to see that God has uniquely gifted human individuals who can speak wisdom, guidance, support and counsel into my life as well. I only needed to humble myself enough to see that I don’t always have it all together and always know the next right step. As much as I would love to do life on my own, on an island, ruled by me, that’s not how God has called us to do life. He has called us to do life in community, and sometimes that means reaching out to those in my “community” who can help me process issues and who can give wise counsel. Only then will I know what it means to really thrive.
*This advent season, I am blogging through the series we are doing over on Woven titled “Called by Name” where we are exploring more in depth the different names Jesus is called in the Bible. If you would like to hear more about Jesus as our Wonderful Counselor and Advocate, listen to episode 79- https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/called-by-name-advent-2/id1360643801?i=1000456569975