I am afraid that in our efforts to relieve suffering, many of us have adopted a fatalistic view of our sinful actions. We dig sedulously into our past, hoping to solve some psychological mystery that will provide a reasonable explanation for our choices, the unavoidable “series of unfortunate events” that will absolve us from guilt without the painful process of “sorrowing and repenting” which the apostle Paul says is essential for salvation, not only spiritually but psychologically as well. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

Now, don’t miss understand me. I believe a thorough knowledge of our pasts is important but if we want to live life with “no regrets” as it says in 1 Corinthians, then we would do well to follow Paul’s example. He said, “Even if I caused you sorrow by my [words], I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my [words] hurt you, but only for a little while— yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us.” Pain is an inevitable part of redemption. Unless I, as therapist, am willing to walk with my clients through the painful process of accepting our responsibility for sin no matter what the external influences, I rob them of the one vital element that distinguishes Christian counseling from secular counseling. Let us not make that mistake!

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