“Wow! I can hardly believe that it is almost Christmas 2016! So many things have happened throughout this year – some challenging and many are unbelievable blessings!
One of those blessings I am referring to has to do with the ways that God has continued to provide for and encourage us during this transition the counseling ministry has been undergoing as we remain faithful to answering the call on our lives and on our ministry!
God has shown up every step of the way, bringing new opportunities and new faces, with new perspectives and new blessings. He has shown up in the many ways that He has touched those He has brought to us for healing and encouragement – for renewal and restoration of the peace and joy He has always wanted for them. And as we move ever closer to the completion of this transition, it has not escaped any of us that our God is faithfully guiding and going before us, making our path smooth for this work.
One example of the ways we have witnessed His grace is how in case after case, even when it may seem to some that it is time to give up, God demonstrates that His power to heal is beyond our finite understanding.
To share an example of the ways and means that God intercedes in this ministry is in how we have been privileged to reach couples as far away as Africa, Bermuda, Michigan, London, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Wisconsin through the blessing of modern technology. We have invested our time and effort with families and couples in our own family of faith as well as in the surrounding community, assisting the Holy Spirit in the healing and restoration of marriages and families that had all but given up on ever having the peace, joy and harmony God intended for them.
I believe that the watch word here is that we are not to ever give up, and are to trust that God is the only one Who can decide when the battle is over, and He is the only One Who can heal even the most tragic, broken and discouraging of relationships.
Through the experience of witnessing this healing power over and over in our ministry, we have all come to believe and understand that it is NOT anything we do, other than cooperate with God’s work and not give up as He works in and through the dynamics of the counseling team. Our call and challenge is to point our clientele to the only One Who can heal their brokenness. Along the way, we are blessed to see clients receive the always-extended hand of God, as He reaches out to them, assuring them that He is with them, working to restore and heal them.
Sometimes, by the gift of free will, things don’t turn out the way that any of us desire – and a spouse will make the decision to end a marriage. While this may seem like a failure of the relationship –and indeed, it is – the connection to the God of compassion and healing is still, and always will be, available. That connection to God, in any and all circumstances, is absolutely a victory! You see, friends, we have no control over what another may choose. We do, however, have control over the way that we ‘hold’ that decision – even when it hurts, even when it comes with the devastation of brokenness of relationships. Much like the poem “Footprints in the Sand” by Mary Stevenson,” when the character asked God why, when he was in deepest despair, were there only one set of footprints seen in the sand, God’s answer became so significant, so tender. He said, “When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
Our lesson, as we read this poem and as we encounter our fears, losses, pain and sadness, is to know and trust that God is with us through it all, and that He will, at last, deliver us from all that may seem overwhelming in this life. In short, that is the lesson we often are called to teach those who come for healing through the counseling ministry. And it is a lesson that is important for all of us to learn.
Our prayer for each and every one of you, this Christmas- and all through the New Year, is that you are ever-aware of the loving, tender, redeeming and healing presence of our Savior Emmanuel! – And have a blessed and Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!”
-Rev. Dr. Patricia Ryan, Regional Director of Counseling for Hope for the Hurting Home at Windwood Presbyterian Church