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One of the Scariest Counseling Sessions I’ve Ever Had

January 25, 2014

We are studying the book of Matthew, and have just come upon the story of Jesus facing Lucifer head-on in the wilderness.  Jesus had escaped the crowds imageand celebrity-chasers after His baptism in chapter 3.

“Why did Jesus get baptized?” asked Brett.  “He wasn’t a sinner, and that’s a sign of turning away from sin, isn’t it?”

“Your wonder is the same as the wonder of the people around the river, and even John the Baptist himself was puzzled,” I answered.  “But among the many powerful things that were displayed at the Jordan River, the one thing that registered to those around the scene was that Jesus in His humanity was identifying with the sinner.  You see that also in the wilderness challenge of chapter 4.”

Sara nodded.  “So the temptation of Jesus was also to show us that Jesus identifies with us.”

“Not only us, but all of the people from all times and all centuries, the whole ages-long line of sinners that we are,” I responded.  “Look, Jesus put Himself through starvation and solitude up to that point.  He didn’t need to.  Now the Enemy comes along, taunting Him.  Jesus as God had the power to blast Satan past Saturn if he wanted to, get the Enemy out of that wilderness, but Jesus as Man wanted to set an example that we can face temptations and, leaning on God, can see victory over any sin.”

But McKenna was still confused.  “But you had said earlier that He faced every temptation that we  would ever face.  Where is that found in the Bible?”  I showed them Hebrews 4:15 on the PowerPoint:

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

“He faced it all,” I said.  “The temptation to steal, to lust, to smack someone in the face in anger.  The whole list of sins, He took them all face to face.”

“Whoa,” said a very nervous girl in the back of the room. “That sounds blasphemous, talking about Jesus sinning.”

“Listen carefully,” I said.  “He faced the temptation to sin.  But never lose that last phrase in Hebrews 4:15 – yet He did not sin.”

“Ah,” said the girl.  “Whew.”

I nodded. “Jesus gave us an example of overcoming temptation.  He also showed that He truly understood the temptations we faced, because He also faced them,”

I then told the classroom of the most extreme case of counseling I had ever undertaken.  It truly scared me, so desperate was the teen:

Years ago in another school system,  I had a young man approach me and ask me if I could meet with him after school.

“Sure,” I told ‘Josh’. “I’m getting some paperwork done, so stop by right after school and we can talk.”

He looked me in the eye with a deep stare.  “No, Doc, I mean, will you be here later on, like maybe about near four or five o’clock?”

I glanced at my notes.  “Well, um, I’m preparing some notes for my U.T. Bible study so let me make a call to my wife, and yes, I can be here until six….”

“Good,” said Josh.  “I’ll see you around five.”  He darted out to his next class, leaving me puzzled.

When he came in at five that evening, he asked that the door be locked.  “I know there’s a window on the door, but I don’t want anyone barging in,” he said.  I locked the door and sat down.  “Josh, what is it?”

He sat down at a desk and stared straight into the desk top.  He was wild-eyed.  “It’s porn.  It’s taken me over.  I can’t think straight.”

“How long has this been going on?” I asked.

“I started with magazines about a year and a half ago. About once a week, maybe twice.  Then when I got my own computer, it became a daily thing.  Then lately, on the weekends, it has been, like, hourly,” he ran his fingers through his hair, “and I can’t stop.”

I looked at Josh and saw real panic in his eyes.  He looked like he was losing his mind.  I was genuinely scared for him.

Josh waved his hands around.  “I can’t stop thinking about it.  The filth has crept through my mind.  Every five minutes it comes back. I can’t concentrate on the lectures,  I can’t take notes.”  He gestured towards the door.  “Even going from class to class is a problem, because I’m seeing all those girls… girls who used to be my friends and now I can’t think clearly about them…I can’t keep my focus on my studies.  I don’t think I can make it.” His eyes were wide and darting.  “I can’t make it.  Nobody has ever faced this type of problem.”

“Yes, Josh, someone has, and He didn’t sin.  He showed us all that we don’t have to be slaves to this,” I said.  I grabbed my Bible and showed him Hebrews 4:15.  He pulled it to him and read it over and over.  I continued.  “You need to take this to Jesus.  He is the only one that can help you win over this.”

Josh held the Bible and kept staring at it.  “I really need help.  I really need help.”

And so began our sessions, right up until his graduation.  He came in and we read the Bible and prayed.  Boy, was it a battle, but the Lord’s power began to give Josh hope.  I began to see Satan’s grip being released.  Josh was not cured, but he was losing that suicidal look.  He was becoming more calm.  Graduation came, and I lost contact with him as I moved to another school system.

Until last August.  Over Facebook.

These many years later, I see Josh happily married, children in tow.  I see his face is calm and relaxed, even the candid shots show that he is resting  and enjoyable now.  His profiles talk and show that he is active in Christian service as a helper in local church work and in mission outreach. He writes about the joy of the Lord and the peace he has found in Christ.  Yes, peace now.   Josh let me know that although it took a while, he has let Jesus win the battle.

It’s a story I’ll long remember.  When there was no hope and no escape. Jesus stepped in.  He understood and He saved.

It’s a story I’ll never stop telling to my students.

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