An Invitation to Pastors

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What does the Biblical doctrine of creation have to do with counseling people who are going through tough times?  Believe it or not, plenty!  We have the perfect proof.

Question #1: Who suffered more than anyone else in the Bible (other than Christ Himself)?
Question #2: Who was his personal counselor at the end of the book?

  • Job: The Problem of Pain

    Here is the perfect setup to make the case: we have the man who wrote the book on suffering, Job, with the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6), God Himself, there in person to help him work out his problem.  What does God do?  Get ready for a shock: He gives Job a creation science exam!

    No kidding: God says to Job (38:2, 40:7), Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Now gird up your loins like a man; I will question you, and you will answer Me.  Then the God of creation launches into an 77-question oral exam, interrogating Job about physics, astronomy, cosmology, orbital mechanics, celestial navigation, optics, mathematics, geology, hydrology, meteorology, cryonics, crystallography, oceanography, mineralogy, psychology, ecology, ornithology, animal behavior, botany and zoology.  This seems like a bizarre way to help a man who is hurting.  What’s going on here?

    First, an assumption and an observation.

    • Assumption: God is all-wise.  Wisdom, by definition, is having perfect ends, and using perfect means to achieve those ends.  We can safely assume, knowing the perfection of God’s attributes, that God knows what He is doing, and has Job’s best interests in mind.
    • Observation: It worked!  Job, after suffering through endless dialogue with his miserable comforters, finally hears counsel that meets his need.  As a result, he falls prostrate before the Creator and says, “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You .... Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:1-3).

    But why did it work?  Job, though more righteous than all his human advisers (42:7), and more righteous than many of us would be in the same circumstances, did start feeling a tinge of pride and self-pity toward the end.  He thought that he had a case to make before God (ch. 13, ch. 23).  He would present his arguments and demand an answer.  Instead, he finds himself on the stand, the target of interrogation by Almighty God, the Judge of the universe.

    It’s interesting to notice that God never tells Job about the contest with Satan (ch. 1-2), and never provides an answer to the perennial philosophical problem of pain.  What the Creation Science Exam does achieve, however, is an unmistakable message that is as helpful today as it was back then: Job, you can trust Me.  I am the sovereign Lord of creation.  You may not understand your situation any more than you understand how a deer gives birth, or how an ostrich lays its eggs, or how the Pleiades are held together, or how light travels through space.  But I understand all these things.  And if I can run the universe, I can take care of a puny man like you.  Henry Morris in The Remarkable Record of Job (Baker, 1988) calls this the “the healing message of creation.”  He says on p. 87,

    This leads us to the remarkable conclusion that a correct and complete doctrine of creation is the answer to all the problems that burden this present hurting world.  Rather than placing too much emphasis on creation, Job and his friends needed to give it more emphasis.  Creation should have first priority in their thinking, no matter what problem they were facing.  If God Himself laid such stress on it in dealing with this most vexing of all human problems, we would also do well to give it priority when dealing with this or lesser problems.
    It’s a shame that some commentaries glide over Job 38-41, the grand gallery of creation’s wonders, as if they are impertinent details.  Unlike Morris’s excellent book, they miss the whole point.  An attention to creation, pondering the details of the wonders of nature, is not just an intellectual exercise for scientists – creation is the reason for hope in suffering.  The power of the message is in the details.

    Creation Counseling – what a radical concept!  Someone should write a book on this; it might revolutionize Biblical counseling.  Think of the possibilities– helping that hurting person put his or her problems in perspective, getting their eyes off themselves and onto the awesome wonders of creation.  Would it work?  Consider these evidences from recent scientific reports:

    • Medical researchers at Johns Hopkins have found that nature sights and sounds can ease pain for hospital patients.
    • A public health specialist at Emory University thinks fellow doctors should prescribe exposure to scenic natural environments instead of just pills, for treating and preventing illness.
    • Researchers at Texas A&M University found that participants in active outdoor recreation experienced less stress and were better able to handle challenges in life.

    Along with Creation Counseling, a little Thankfulness Therapy can work wonders.  The Apostle Paul said that one of the reasons God gave people over to judgment is that, even when surrounded by inexcusable evidence for His power in creation, they did not glorify Him as God, neither were thankful (Romans 1:21).  Remember the grumbling Israelites?  They had just seen God’s awesome power over nature, even parting the Red Sea, but could only think about food and their sore feet, and God was rightly angry with them. Thankfulness is not just a command in the Bible, it has healthy fringe benefits!  It’s hard to get depressed when you have a thankful heart.  How many times have you opened a prayer meeting for requests, and the first thing on anyone’s mind is the sick list– my aunt’s neighbor’s sister’s cousin has migraines.  Try an experiment: have the prayer meeting spend the whole time on thanksgiving for specific things.  Teach them about some of the wonders of the human body mentioned in the last chapter, and tell them that even when severely ill, if 99% of the things in our bodies weren’t working just right, we would be dead!  The amazing thing is not that we get sick, but that we are ever well, especially in this fallen world of sin and mutations and the curse, where we know we are going to die anyway.  This is not to minimize the pain of those who suffer, but even Job at rock bottom, miserable with sores, still had eyes, ears, and a brain that were working perfectly.  Was God perhaps forcing him to look at the part of the glass that was 99% full?  I had a sister die of cancer recently, but her spirit of thankfulness amazed everyone around her, and kept her heart in perfect peace till the end.  Creation–thanksgiving– these are the things that can turn bitterness into blessing.  Even for the disabled or those with serious health problems, there is awesome wonder in which to rejoice if we have a thankful heart.

    Creation counseling is Biblical, as the case with Job illustrates so well.  But as perfect and lengthy as this portion of Scripture is for making the case that creation is the reason for hope in suffering, it’s bad hermeneutics to build a case on one passage.  Let’s look at some more examples.

  • Habakkuk: The Triumph of Evil
    Habakkuk has a problem.  He knows Israel is wicked, but he can’t figure out why God would use the Babylonians, even more wicked, to punish Israel (1:13)  He waits on the rampart and watches to see how God will answer his question (2:1), but God only responds that the just will live by his faith (2:4), and God will punish evildoers; let all the earth keep silence before Him (2:20).  Like Job, Habakkuk does not get the answer he expects.  And like Job, he gets satisfaction by considering creation.

    In chapter 3, Habakkuk picks up his guitar and composes a psalm, in which he sees the God of creation filling the heavens, lighting up the earth, and displaying His glory.  The sight of majestic mountains, rivers, and skies provides him inspiration, and he lapses into poetic rhapsody.  You can almost picture Habakkuk standing outside under gathering storm clouds.  He portrays the sovereign Lord of the heavens and the earth gathering His forces of judgment (3:6), dividing the earth with rivers (v. 10), and shattering the complacency of its inhabitants with mighty thunder (v. 11).  The whirlwind, the storm, the lightning, and the torrent rushing through the dry riverbed reminds him of God’s judgment in the great Flood (vv. 10-15), and he trembles at the power of God (v. 16).  The music of creation brings his soul to rest (v. 16b).

    Again, the healing message of creation completely reverses his anxiety.  Habakkuk tosses his worries aside (v.17) and rejoices with this joyful affirmation (vv. 17-19):

    Though the fig tree may not blossom,
    Nor fruit be on the vines;
    Though the labor of the olive may fail,
    And the fields yield no food;
    Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
    And there be no herd in the stalls–
    Yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will joy in the God of my salvation.

    The Lord God is my strength
    He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
    And He will make me walk on my high hills.

    If you have ever watched a deer, you know that they do not plod along: they prance!  They jump and trot so nimbly they appear to be floating on air.  Habakkuk’s mood swing is so complete, after meditating on creation, he says he feels like waltzing up a high mountain peak.  Hallelujah for the healing message of creation!

  • Psalm 42: Depression
    We’ve read and sung Psalm 42 a hundred times; have we noticed what it’s saying?

    As the deer pants for the water brooks,
    So pants my soul for You, O God.

    The unknown author of this familiar line is depressed.  He’s shedding tears (v. 3).  His friends are picking on him; the skeptics are mocking him for his faith, and he’s having no fun walking among the crowds in the city (vv. 3-4, 9).  So he tries the healing message of creation: he takes a nature hike.  Whether in his mind’s eye or actually is not clear, but he recalls to mind beautiful scenes of the natural world.

    He travels north to the headwaters of the Jordan, near lofty Mt. Hermon (vv. 6-7).  There, he meditates at the rushing sound of the beautiful cascading waterfalls.  He sees a panting deer quenching its thirst in the bubbling waters.  He sees the lovingkindness of the Lord in creation (v. 8), and this gives him a calm assurance in God’s care, and quenches his own thirst for the nearness of God.

    Why are you cast down, O my soul?
    And why are you disquieted within me?
    Hope in God;
    For I shall yet praise Him,
    The help of my countenance and my God.

    The healing session successful, he prays for his needs, packs up his knapsack, and heads home with confidence (Psalm 43).  The one-on-one contact with God outdoors, surrounded by the peaceful beauty of creation, has cured his depression.

    Dealing with a depressed person?  Tell her to go take a hike.

  • Psalm 121: From whence comes my help?
    The familiar verse Psalm 121:1 is not a statement: I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help.  It is a question: I will lift up my eyes unto the hills.  From whence comes my help?  My help is not going to come from the hills, like a cavalry stampeding down the mountain to the rescue.  Why look at the hills, then?

    Lifting my eyes to the hills, i.e., observing the grandeur of creation, provides the signpost to the answer: My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth (v. 2).  My help does not come primarily from doctors, lawyers, the government, or myself.  My help comes from the Creator, who not only created the majestic beauty of the mountains in the past, but neither slumbers nor sleeps (v. 4) in the present, as He sustains his creatures.  Because He is the sovereign Lord of creation, The sun will not strike you by day, nor the moon by night (v. 6).  No imposter sun god or moon god can intimidate a soul who knows the Almighty Creator.  Therefore we have hope: The Lord shall preserve you from all evil.  He shall preserve your soul.  The Lord shall preserve your going out and coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore (vv. 7-8).

    Creation is the reason for hope, that whether suffering or succeeding, the Lord, the Creator of the hills, is always with us.  Might it be beneficial, therefore, to lift up our eyes to the mountains occasionally, to be reminded of the Creator’s power?

  • Paul: The Curse and Redemption
    Now we’re not wanting to be naive about nature; it’s not all pretty out there.  Natural disasters, disease, thorns, and severe environments characterize much of the earth today.  But Paul recognized that even these are cause for hope (Rom. 8:19-25).

    For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility; not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs until now.  Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.  For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what one sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

    It’s interesting to note that the familiar verse that follows, Romans 8:28 (“all things work together for good”) is in the context of this creation passage.  It means that God can steer the powers of the heavens and earth to the good of His children.  That might even mean sending a disease as the agent of sanctification, or ultimately as a vehicle for taking him or her to glory.  But none of these things can separate us from the love of God (v. 38)– “neither death, nor life . . . nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing” (vv. 38-39).  He has the whole world in His hands!  When counseling someone from Romans 8:28, be sure to give the creation context lest it sound like an empty platitude.  A recognition of God’s sovereignty over the storm (Jonah 1:4), the sting (Josh. 24:12), and the stars (Judges 5:4,20) gives power to the promise that He can steer our individual circumstances for good.

    All around us are reminders of sin, death, and judgment, true; but there are also plentiful reminders of God’s goodness and mercy to give us hope.  Paul told the Gentiles at Lystra that even though He had let the nations go their own ways, “Nevertheless, He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:16-17).  In spite of the curse, the world is still filled with evidence of the goodness of God.  He can even turn the remains of judgment, like the Grand Canyon, into places of majestic beauty.  Go to our creation photo gallery for a look at the bright side of creation.

    In review, the Apostle Paul teaches that (1) There is enough of a curse on the current creation to remind us of sin and judgment, (2) There is enough beauty to remind us of God’s goodness and sovereignty, and (3) God’s promise of a new creation gives us hope for the ultimate redemption of our bodies, our souls, and the whole creation.  So how should we live in the present cursed world?  The Lord Jesus Christ Himself uses natural object lessons to tell us.

  • Jesus Christ: The Problem of Worry
    This example needs no elaboration.  Jesus points to creation to teach us not to worry (Matt. 6:26-34):

    Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  So why do you worry about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

    Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?”  For after all these things the Gentiles seek.  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

  • Peter: The Fear of Persecution
    What about suffering from injustice?  Can creation help?  Peter says so (I Peter 4:19):

    Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

    A man suffering in a dungeon can look down at the mud, or out through the window at the stars.  The sight of a night sky, peaceful and orderly, reminds the persecuted soul that God is still on the throne, and that the one who holds the powers of nature in His hand also steers the unjust governments of man; so no matter what comes, we can entrust our souls to a faithful Creator.

    Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
    Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above,
    Join with all nature in manifold witness
    To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

  • Solomon: No Problems!
    There are two kinds of people in the world: those who are going through trials, and those who will.  Solomon, in Ecclesiastes, knows that young people are tempted to swagger in their strength and health.  Life is good.  I’ve got a girl, a sports car, a letter on my jacket, and straight A’s.  No problems!  Solomon pulls him aside and has a word for him (Eccl. 11:9, 12:1):

    Rejoice, O young man, in your youth,
    And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth;
    Walk in the ways of your heart,
    And in the sight of your eyes;
    But know that for all these
    God will bring you into judgment ....

    Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth; Before the difficult days come,
    And the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them.”

    When the trials come, as they surely will, only a faith fully trained in the Bible doctrine of creation will be able to anchor a soul in the promises of God.

    When peace like a river attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll,
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
    It is well, it is well with my soul.
    – Horatio Spafford

Case proved?  Creation is the reason for hope in suffering.  Whether suffering now or on layaway, we all need to remember our Creator, in youth through old age.  Think about how these concepts might add fresh power to your Biblical counseling!

Homework: Read the passages listed below to see how frequently in the Bible you find this theme: Creation is the reason for hope in suffering.  For a complete list of 120 passages, download and print our PDF file, Creation Counseling.

Introduction to Reason #5
Has church become a routine of keeping the programs going, adding people, and keeping the offering coming in, or is there a cause worth fighting for?  As a pastor, do you still have that sense of urgency about your job?  Are your methods of reaching the lost effective?  Do you understand the times, so that you can know what to do (I Chron. 12:32)?  To prepare for Reason #5; run to the closet and grab your combat boots.
Ready?  Click here to continue
From the Old Testament Prophets and the Psalms
Ps 8 When I consider the heavens, the works of Thy hands... what is man?...Yet you crown him with glory and honor
Ps 23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not pastures, still waters, paths of righteousness
Ps 27 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?...He will lift me high upon a rock
Ps 34:10 Young lions lack and suffer hunger...seekers of the Lord shall not be in want
Ps 71:6 By You I have been sustained from my birth...from mother’s womb
Ps 36:5-6 Your steadfast love extends to the and beast You save, O Lord
Ps 42:1-11 As the deer pants after the water soul cast down, therefore I remember you from...Hermon, waterfalls
Ps 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved
Ps 85:11 Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky
Ps 85:12The Lord will give what is good, and land yield produce; truth springs from earth, righteousness from the heavens [natural theology]
Ps 90:2 [Moses] Before mountains born...from everlasting to everlasting Thou art God
Ps 91:3 Protection from deadly is He who delivers
Ps 92:12-14 Righteous man flourish like palm tree, cedar...still yield fruit in old age, full of sap
Ps 103:4-5 Who redeems your life from the pit...satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's
Ps 103:11As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him.
Ps 103:13-19 As a father shows compassion...for He knows are frame; He remembers that we are but dust...steadfast love of the Lord everlasting
Ps 104:24-35 Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom you have made them all...these all look to You, to give them their food
Ps 107:1-9 Some wandered in desert wastes...Let us thank the Lord for His wonderful works to the children of men
Ps 107:10-16 Some sat in darkness and shadow of death...Let us thank the Lord for His wonderful works to the children of men
Ps 107:17-22 Some were fools through their sinful ways...Let us thank the Lord for His wonderful works to the children of men
Ps 107:23-32 Some went down to the sea in ships...storm, prayer, rescue...Let us thank the Lord for His wonderful works
Ps 107:33-43 Sovereign acts of the Lord on springs, land, pools, fruit; judgment on men...whoever is wise, let him attend to these things
Ps 118:17 I shall not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord
Ps 118:24 This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice be glad in it
Ps 119:73-75 Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding...I have hoped in Your word...In faithfulness You afflicted me
Ps 121:1-8 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills; from whence comes my help?...from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Ps 124:1-8 If it had not been the Lord who was on our side...Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Ps 136:23-26 It is He who remembered our low estate...He who gives food to all flesh, for His steadfast love endures forever.
Ps 138:8 Though I walk in the midst of trouble...Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands.
Ps 143:4-6 My spirit faints...I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands
Ps 145:9 Lord is good to all and His mercies are over all His works
Ps 145:14-16 The Lord upholds all who are give them tiehr food in due satisfy the desire of every living thing
Ps 146:5-6 Blessed is he whose help is in the God of Jacob...Who made heaven, earth, sea
Isa 26:3-4 You will keep him in perfect peace...the Lord is an everlasting Rock
Isa 26:9-11 When your judgments are in the earth, inhabitants learn righteousness...wicked does not see majesty of the Lord
Isa 30:20-26 Though the Lord give adversity, he will give rain...the Lord binds up the brokenness of his people
Isa 37:16-17 You have made heaven and earth...incline your ear, O Lord, and hear...Assyria trusts in no gods but the work of men's hands
Isa 40:28-31He is Creator of the ends of the will run and not be weary, walk and not faint
Isa 42:5-17 Who created the heavens...I will take you by the hand and keep you, bring prisoner out from the dungeon
Isa 43:1-7He who created you...when you pass through the waters, rivers, fire...I will be with you
Isa 43:10 Before Me no god was formed...besides me there is no savior
Isa 44:2-8 He who formed you from the womb and will help you...fear not...Is there a God beside Me? There is no Rock, I know no other
Isa 46:3-4I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save [cp with idols in vv 1-2]
Isa 51:3 For the Lord comforts Zion; He comforts her waste places, makes her wilderness like Eden, like garden of the Lord->joy, gladness, thanksgiving, song
Isa 51:6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens: Heavens will vanish, but my salvation will be forever
Isa 51:16 Establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth, and saying to Zion, "You are my people"
Isa 54:5-8For your Maker is your husband...for I brief moment I deserted you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion
Isa 54:10 The mountains may depart and hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you
Isa 57:15 The one high and lifted up, whose name is Holy...I dwell with revive the spirit of the lowly
Isa 57:16 For I will not contend forever...for the spirit would grow faint before Me, and the breath of life that I made
Isa 64:8-12 [Prayer] We are the clay, you are the Potter...please look, for we are your people
Isa 66:1-2 Heaven is My throne...I made all these things...will look to contrite
Jer 10:10-16 He has made the heaven and earth...[vs idols] portion of Jacob not like these, for He is the one who formed all things
Jer 14:22Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain? Are you not He, O Lord our God? We set our hope on you, for you do all these things
Jer 17:13 O Lord the hope of Israel...those who turn away from you have forsaken the fountain of living water
Jer 33:2-3I made the to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things
Lam 3:20-41His mercies are new every morning...Great is Thy faithfulness...[God's purposes in trials explained]
Eze 17:22-24 All the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord...I make the dry tree flourish
Eze 34:25-27 I will banish wild beasts from the will sleep in the woods in safety...there will be showers of blessing
Hosea 2:18 I will make a covenant with the will lie down in safety
Hosea 6:1-3 Let us return to the Lord...He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth
Hosea 14:8 O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answers and looks after you...from Me comes your fruit
Joel 2:21-27 I will restore what the locust has devoured
Joel 2:30-32Wonders in the heavens above and earth beneath...whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved
Joel 3:16 the heavens and the earth quake. But the Lord is a refuge to His people, a stronghold
Amos 4:13 Who who forms mountains and creates the wind...declares to man what are His thoughts
Amos 5:8-9 He who made Pleiades and Orion...makes destruction flash forth against the strong
Amos 9:5-10Touches the earth and it one who shakes with a sieve, but no pebble shall fall to the ground
Jonah 4:10-11 You pity the plant, which you did not make...shall I not have pity on Nineveh?
Nahum 1:3-7 [God's power in creation described]...The Lord is good, a stronghold in day of trouble, knows those who take refuge in Him
Habakkuk 3 I have heard the report of You and your wrath remember mercy [see description in text, above]
Haggai 2:17-19 I struck you with plagues... but from this day on I will bless you
Zech 10:1-2 Ask rain from the Lord...from the Lord who makes the storm clouds, and He will give them showers of rain...for the household gods utter nonsense
Zech 12:1-13:1Lord who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth...[time of Jacob's trouble and terrible suffering is coming, but)...12:10 I will pour out a spirit of grace...13:1 A fountain shall be opened, to cleanse from sin and uncleanness
Mal 3:10-18 Test me now and see if I will not open up the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing until there is no more room to receive it
Mal 3:16-18 Those who feared..Lord of remembrance: They shall be mine, when I make up my treasured possession
Acts 4:24-26 Apostles' prayer during persecution begins: Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them