Dr Ashok Chacko has seen many people’s lives transformed through the use of biblical counselling. Here he tells us more about it.
What is biblical counselling?
Biblical counselling helps to connect scripture with real life. It is very practical. We use biblical teaching to help people understand their true identity in Christ and deal with life’s challenges.
Why is identity important?
God created us to be image-bearers, reflecting his character in our lives. He designed us to gain our identity from him, and be totally dependent on him, just as Jesus derived his identity through ‘every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4). God wants us to live in harmony with himself, others and the whole of creation. This is summed up in the Hebrew word ‘shalom’ which refers to the deep peace that comes from harmony.
Sadly, as a consequence of sin, we have become self-centred rather than God-centred. We try to gain our identity from our culture and other people, instead of from God. This results in us having a distorted image of ourselves and others. We can become fearful and anxious when we compare ourselves with others or try to please them, rather than relating to God.
Jesus came to reconcile us back to God. When we trust in him, our identity as children of God can be firmly restored in our hearts, giving us confidence to respond differently to the difficulties and pressures we face.
Can you give us an example?
Below is the personal testimony of one of the people I have been counselling, shared with their permission.
‘Growing up, I struggled with various kinds of fears and phobias. Talking to a group of people would make me nervous and I constantly feared rejection and disapproval.
‘When my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness I started getting panic attacks and became apprehensive about small things. I became easily irritated and responded to family and friends with anger and bitter words. I looked for ways to escape and avoid what I was facing.
‘I believed that my happiness depended on changing my circumstances. But the problem was not with my family, it was with me. Realising this, I turned to Jesus in prayer and wept like a small child. ‘I know I do not need to hide anything when I approach God because he already knows all my secrets and the desires of my heart. He knows my deep sorrows and pain. He not only sympathises with me, but actually went through unimaginable pain and suffering himself, so he is able to comfort me.
‘My anxiety and fear did not vanish straight away, but my way of looking at things started to change. God became bigger than the problems. On the days when I feel weak, I tell myself that I am a new person in Christ, I am cared for and I am no longer a slave to fear (Romans 8:15). I find great comfort in Jesus’ words to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).”’
When we struggle with issues in our lives, recognising that we are children of a compassionate heavenly Father, who loves us unconditionally, enables us to run to him. We are able to see that our dignity and value come from God, and this helps us to face situations with greater resilience and hope.
Dr Chacko is a physician and biblical counsellor in India.