Much of the sickness of our modern world lies hidden until it explodes in emotional disorder. The minister-counselor must be prepared for distressing encounters that tax all his wisdom, patience, and prayer. Often he must work with medical resources in search of healing.
A young married man made an urgent phone call to me one Monday evening. He was highly intelligent and good-looking. He loved his wife and two children. He was in his last year of work for a Ph.D. and hoped to become an educational administrator.
He was suffering from attacks of panic at night, guilt over obscene thoughts, and fear of losing his eyesight. He had been reared in a very strict sect that emphasized eternal punishment, and he had the highest Christian ideals. He believed that a spot he had on one retina could be healed in only one way—by instantaneous divine touch.
I was relieved to learn that the young man was receiving psychiatric help at the campus health center. I arranged to meet with him for regular counseling sessions. During the eight months these went on, I tried to help him lay hold of salvation by grace through faith. Although reared in a “free grace” tradition, he was really under the burden of condemnation. I prescribed many passages of New Testament reading, and we discussed these repeatedly.
We had conversations about handling bad thoughts and about trusting God through the eye doctor to preserve his sight. He told me about the therapy at the student health center, which was an effort to reach his emotions through muscle tension and relaxation.
After several months, he no longer had attacks of panic. He smiled more easily and became more optimistic. He began to feel he could cope with final exams and the professional responsibilities ...1
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