Journeying with People in their Darkness

I recently sought advice from a Thai pastor who is a trained psychologist and on the board of our student ministry association (TCS). I had been struggling in my attempts to journey with a student with chronic depression and I needed some guidance.

He made sure to check how I was doing and told me that I need not take anything she says or does personally. The only thing of utmost concern that I need to observe and take note of is whether she is going to harm herself. I don’t need to be stressed or burdened if she says bad things to me or bad mouths me to other people. I expect that she will have unrealistic expectations of me and will never be satisfied with the help that I offer to her. I just have to keep reminding her to eat and sleep well, and check that she continues to see her psychiatrist and counsellor. It will help me greatly to know what to expect on this journey together, and to accept the reality of the challenges that come along with it.

As this pastor journeys with many people through counselling, I wondered how he took care of himself. He smiled and said that the classic advice is true. As believers we have “unlimited resources” from our heavenly Father who “empowers” us with “inner strength” by His Spirit (Ephesians 3:16, NLT). Like what John Piper said, “At the cross, he dove headfirst into the darkness, so that we might have eternal, unfading, always increasing hope and happiness.”

I got out of the conversation feeling empowered to continue our journey together, remembering to hold on to God’s promises and making full use of the resources He has provided us.  

Cherlyn Oh