“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt. 11:28-30
In 2016 God opened a door for me to be a biblical counselor at a local counseling center. I was doing pastoral counseling for church members for the previous nine years, but this was new ground for me.
I worked at the center for just one year, specifically with married couples, men, and adolescent boys. Reflecting on my time there brings me joy! God allowed me to sit in a room and hear countless stories from hurting people, addicts, struggling couples, and depressed teens. God brought restoration and healing to many of them and it happened right in front of me. It was both sobering and worshipful!
Clearly, one year as a biblical counselor does not make me an expert in the field. What I share, I do as an observer more than as an instructor. Hopefully, these observations will be helpful. I want to help those in our church and those who have been sinned against as they are on the difficult road to healing. I sat with brokenhearted people and I began to observe common struggles. I witnessed what I now call guilt confusion.
What is guilt confusion? Guilt confusion is when the lines of personal responsibility become blurred in a person's life. Time and time again I sat with people who felt guilty for all the wrong things. Many victims felt guilt and shame for their own victimization as if was in some way their fault. It was backward and they knew it, which only added more guilt and shame to what they already felt. It was confusion. The Enemy of our souls and our sinful flesh has a way of adding terrible fuel to the raging fires of shame.
On the one hand, hurting people felt guilty for sins they did not commit; on the other hand, many of these hurting people started to become what they so badly hated. They turned into people who now hurt other people. Personal sin crept in as they dealt with their own pain. But that sin was stealthy due to apathy or resignation to the fact that hurt people hurt people. Victims were confused about what they were and were not responsible for. They had guilt for the wrong things and no conviction for the right things.
Have you been sinned against? How has that affected you? Do you carry guilt for things that were not your fault? Have you excused your sin because of your false identity as a victim? Loaded questions, I know – but there is hope!
The gospel of Jesus is practical and helpful. Even when we don't feel comforted by the gospel, we can take heart because there is grace still. Even when we feel like the Holy Spirit is absent, He is present. Grace is not dependent on its apprehension. It is simply there because Jesus is there.
In the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we find what can bring stability to those who live in guilt confusion. First, the gospel of Jesus reveals to us that sin is punishable by death and hell. No sin will ever go unpunished. God sees every sin that has ever been committed against you and he is wrathful towards them! The cross and hell show us that God punishes sinners. God sees. There will be justice for the sins that have happened to you.
Second, the resurrection of Jesus promises future restoration. Vengeance exercised does not bring restoration. We need hope. We need sure promises. When we become Christians, we have those promises now and forever more. We are promised in 1 Corinthians 15 that we will receive restored and resurrected bodies. Innocence lost will be restored. God will actually restore what has been stolen from victims. Restored bodies! Restored joy! Restoration!
If you have internal knots tied from the sins committed against you, in Christ, you can move forward. It does not have to be this way! You won't be in this pain forever. God has promised you restoration. And, for the believer who struggles to find comfort in the justice and restoration promised in the Gospel, there is even more grace still.
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, turn again to Jesus. Come to him! After all, he says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew. 11:28-30