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Psalm 107:12 – Whom God has Brought Low, Let No Man Raise Up

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“So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help,” Psalm 107:12.

I remember when I was in prison and feeling sorry for myself and whatever prospects awaited me after my release, countless, well-intentioned volunteers would come in and try to make me feel better about myself and my future.  “You just made a mistake,” they would say, “It's not the end of your life.  There's still hope.”  But the Scripture says something else entirely.  There is no hope apart from a deep, abiding relationship with Christ.

In Competent to Counsel, Jay Adams wrote that he never minimized the depression or suicidal thoughts of counselees because these were almost always the result their sin or sin that had been committed against them.  Depression and the suicidal thoughts they were experiencing were God's way of letting them know that something wasn't right and what they needed was repentance and a right relationship with Him.  Of course, we know from the book of Job and the blind man of John 9 that sin isn't always the cause of such troubles.  But it cannot be denied that sin can be the cause of such feelings.

Certainly, in the case of this Psalm, that is exactly what's being said here.  The incarcerated person has been brought low as a result of habitual sin and refusal to submit to counsel.  They have burned all their bridges so that there is now “none to help.”  What's needed to “turn their mourning into dancing” is the gospel.  They are sinners who have rebelled against God and His Word and they need to repent, turn from their sins to Christ and live.

Any attempt to encourage those incarcerated apart from the gospel, to try to help them feel better, to increase their “self-esteem,” to motivate them with encouraging pep talks, actually deprives them of what they need to cure the fatal disease of sin.   Doing so actually exacerbates sin and increases its effects.  And if there are victims then there will be more victims.  It’s not loving, it’s not merciful, to excuse sin or to try to remedy sin through any other means than the true gospel. It’s just evil.  It's not your job to help them feel better.  It's your job to introduce them to Christ.  If God has brought them low and you are trying to raise them up apart from the gospel, you're actually placing yourself in the position as an enemy of God.

In the movie As Good As It Gets, Jack Nicholson plays an obsessive compulsive.  At one point, he storms out of his psychologists office and says to those in the waiting room, “What is this is as good as it gets?”  The face of everyone in the room falls at the thought.  But as the movie progresses, he begins to value the relationship with another woman more than he values his obsessions and life as he knows it begins to change.

When you have a counselee who tells you they are at their wits end, explain to them that instead of mourning they should be rejoicing!  They are exactly where God wants them.  Their place of desperation can become the means to their salvation.  If they continue down the road they've been on, they should be depressed.  There is no reason to hope that life is going to get any better.  Life as they know it really is as good as it gets.  But if they will look up to the hills from where their salvation comes, there is hope, there is a savior, and life as they know it is going to begin to look radically different.  Their eye hasn't seen, their ear hasn't heard what God has prepared for those who love Him!  He will give them a life they could never have imagined apart from Him!  As they value knowing Christ more than they value their sin, life is going to change.

Posted on August 9, 2013