Using the book of Exodus, author Mike Wilkerson demonstrates that the gospel is the only proper context for handling both our suffering and our sin. Wilkerson wonderfully weaves together the biblical story of redemption and the ways that biblical story relates to the broken stories of people. At times, you will be convicted realizing that you have not faced your sin and suffering very well either. At other times, you will be angry as you read how wickedly one person treated another. At still other times, you may be moved to tears as you hurt with others you have never met or as you remember the wonderful grace of God in your life. Those who seek to help others will be reminded that while steps of intervention are necessary—freedom from sin and suffering is only accomplished in the gospel.
There are three primary strengths to this work that also serve as three reasons why everyone seeking to help others should read it.
Strength # 1: Redemption Will Encourage You Greatly
Mars Hill Church in Seattle has a reputation for working with broken people—and I mean broken. Sometimes, it is easy to get caught in the trap that the solution for really broken people is different than the solution for “sort-of” broken people. In other words, your average counselee will not tell you how she was prostituted by her father; she will not likely explain that the last two years she lived in prostitution; or that they lost their home and entire family due to a drug habit.
Yet, by the time you finish reading Redemption, you are reminded that Jesus is able to heal from every wound—no matter how deep. You are reminded again that unless people turn to Jesus any other help will simply help them be more efficient worshippers of themselves. So, read Redemption and be encouraged that regardless of the level of brokenness your counselee has, the level of healing is greater still. In this office, in your office, the great physician is attending.
Strength # 2: Redemption Will Keep You Focused on Real Hope
Redemption will remind you that pointing people to Christ is the only way to give them real hope; even though it may mean not giving them relief from all their difficulties. Since counseling does have an intervention component, or a skills component, it is possible for a person to try and give two steps for this problem, three passages for that problem, etc.
Wilkerson, however, calls us to something far more than that—it is about your counselee running, and I mean running, to Jesus. He writes, “We either place our faith in the god who threatens to make us miserable but offers temporarily livable slave conditions, or we place our faith in the true God who has promised freedom for life” (p. 61).
In addition, Wilkerson reminds us, “Like Jesus, our hope in God must extend beyond the desire for relief from present suffering to a deeper, ultimate relief. While it is not wrong to ask God to change our circumstances, our hope must remain in Him whether He changes them or not. As we cry out to him, He becomes a refuge to us, a hiding place for safety and comfort” (p. 65).
Strength # 3: Redemption Relates God’s Story to Our Story
Redemption will demonstrate how the book of Exodus can connect to the story of your counselee. In other words, this book will help you develop a more robust and diverse approach to how you handle Scripture in the counseling room (and in the small group setting).
While there is a place for a single verse to help teach a point or illustrate a concept, there is also an important place that needs to be given to the larger story-line and larger themes in Scripture. Redemption will give you a model for how to do that.
Grace and Truth
Purchase a copy, read it, and meditate on the reality that all humans face the challenges of sin and suffering. Wilkerson writes, “In delivering us from sin, God breaks the chains of slavery and beckons us to freedom. But faithful obedience is very costly; he calls us to abandon everything we ever clung to in our sin, and pulling out the hook of false comfort can be very painful (p. 57). May God continue to give us grace to meet hurting people where they are and lead them to the only one who can truly give them freedom.