That’s a nice moniker–Wonderful Counselor. It is pleasant, comforting, and maybe even “cozy.” Wonderful Counselor.
That’s how I first thought about physical therapy before my first knee surgery. “I’m going to physical therapy after surgery,” I thought. “That’s nice.” I’m picturing a gentle angel rubbing my shoulders and saying, “There, there, it will be ok.” Instead, immediately upon having the metal staples removed from my incision, this “angel” is rubbing directly on the wound to “break up scar tissue.” I found myself doing the breathing exercises we learned for child labor, and sweating like Richard Nixon in a debate. But this was part of the healing–the breaking up of the scar tissue, and so it is in our lives, and so He is…a Wonderful Counselor–one whose favorite mode of teaching was asking questions. He utilized many methods to proclaim His good news, including poetry, proverbs, exaggeration, parables, puns, similes, metaphors, riddles, paradoxes, irony, and questions. Over 300 of them!
A good counselor asks piercing questions that get to the root of our dysfunction and pain. A Wonderful Counselor asks questions that expose our hearts so we can be healed. My first exposure to counseling began with a simple question, “What do you want to change?” This sounded like something Jesus would ask. “What do you want me to do for you?” “What is it you want?”
My life has most deeply been transformed by the questions that Jesus has asked me through His Word and through His Spirit. His questions have unsettled me from false peaks, and broken up scar tissue, as He has gone about the business of giving me a heart of flesh.
Of course, I don’t mean to imply that God is “Helga the physical therapist here to break you up.” A Wonderful Counselor is comforting, and the Messiah was, is, and will be comforting. I think of the powerful scene revealed to us in Revelation 7:16-17:
‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”
This beautiful prophecy describes those martyrs who lost their lives for the kingdom of God. Christ–the Lamb at the center of the throne–will comfort them. In the end, His comfort will be the victory over what appeared to be defeat.
I think of the many times Jesus has been a comfort to me. His words, His people, His Spirit have been powerful balms to my soul. Above all, when all else seemed lost, I have been aware of His presence. During a difficult time in my days as a Westmont student, I found and claimed Psalm 73:28 as my life verse: “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” It has been his nearness that has been most powerful in the worst moments. I’ve worked with severely disabled young people who revealed to me that the Lord has revealed Himself to them their whole lives, communicating His everlasting love for them. One non-verbal girl with autism told me (through a type-to-speech machine), “I’ve always known God. I didn’t know His name was Jesus until I was 6. He tells me every day that I am His beloved daughter.” The Wonderful Counselor is present with her, and with you, and with me, and with those who we think are too far out.
Finally, His questions, comfort, and presence all work together to powerfully breathe hope into us, His people. Hope says, “It will not always be this way. There will be a day when there is no more thirst, hunger, tears, being beaten down, etc.” Jesus, the Messiah, is a Wonderful Counselor who has the authority to change the course of history. He has authority over evil, itself, and there will be a day when the Wonderful Counselor will reign fully as King of heaven and earth.
Until that day, we live in the tension–the now and not yet kingdom, and we live in our need for our Wonderful Counselor, and we live in hope.
An advent practice to consider in light of our messiah, Jesus, the Wonderful Counselor:
- Take some time to journal and/or consider what questions the Lord is currently asking you. Why do you think He’s asking this question now? How do you respond?
- How has the Lord been a comfort to you in this season or year? Recall and express your gratitude. Raise your hands or wrap your arms around yourself in an embrace and reflect on his comfort.
- How have you experienced His presence? Through whom or in what circumstances? Take a moment to repeat aloud, “Abba, you are here with me.”
- Take a moment to reflect on the hope you experience in Christ. Read the Revelation passage again, and say aloud, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
Matthias Stom, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Scott Lisea is Campus Pastor at Westmont College