For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Is. 9:6
If there are two things we really don’t need, they are: a) another Tex-Mex restaurant in Tyler and b) more counselors. The first one is axiomatic, and must pass without explanation. But, really, don’t we have enough people out there giving us advice? How to grow hair on my head, how to keep it off my ears and back, how to get grass to grow on my lawn, how to get crabgrass not to grow there, keep fat out of your diet, be sure to get enough fat in your diet, too much caffeine is bad for you except when it isn’t, get in touch with your inner child (what the heck?), build your child’s self-esteem (yes, by all means, let’s empower children to focus MORE on themselves-that seems to work so well for sociopaths), be a “tiger mom”—it’s all very confusing, and not only crosses the border into the absurd, but drives deep into its heartland.
The world is a pretty overwhelming place. We were made for community, made to need help. The great American rugged solo pioneer mythologized in legend usually ended up starving or freezing to death in real life, or became vulture take-out with three arrows sticking out of his back. We need someone to give us wise counsel.
Which is what makes the blessing of Christmas so spectacular. For, unto us a child is born who shall be called “Wonderful Counselor”. “Wonderful” here means, “beyond description or understanding”. Yeah, I know He’s God and all, but how does that make this Counselor beyond belief, so much better than any counselor we’ve ever hired or had?
Well, He will always properly diagnose our problem. He sees it and feels it, because He’s lived it. He’s never going to say, “Boy, losing your wife must be tough. I know how you feel. I lost a goldfish one time.” Are you dealing with chronic pain? “Yeah, I had all the skin ripped off My back with a scourge.” Are you dealing with rejection? “All my friends left me about an hour after they promised not to, and one literally sold me for a couple of bucks.” Have you lost a loved one? “The One that I have loved and lived in perfect community with and was My source of strength and life, My everything, was ripped from Me, and, oh, yeah, it was because of you.”
The miracle of Christmas is that God becomes a man to walk in our shoes, to understand the depths of our sorrow. If it was just about dying for our sins, He could have come as a man, suffered and died, and gone back, all in a year or less. But, He lived a full life among us, and He did it to be a “man of sorrows”, to suffer temptation, experience the urge to strike back, dwell in the feeling of deep mourning, bear the weight of despair. He suffered everything there was to suffer so that when you come to Him with your pain, He not only understands it but He joins in it with you. No professional detachment here. No threat of misdiagnosis. Perfect understanding.
He also knows how to help. The problem with most counselors is that they don’t address the deepest issues, our most felt needs for meaning and purpose. They can give us a temporary balm or salve, providing ephemeral relief. But, the Wonderful Counselor doesn’t just know you. He lives inside of you. Whatever nefarious thoughts and experiences dwell in the dungeons of our heart, He knows. He sees. And, He heals. Not the kind of healing that says, “do x, y, and z, and come see me next week.” But, the kind of healing that says, “I’m taking up residence in your heart. I’m rooting around in those inner recesses, and I’m going to heal you not only of the sin, but of the shame and stain of that sin. I’m going to give you purpose and meaning and hope and love and restoration. I’m not just the Guide; I’m the Giver.”
He’s got a pretty good track record. A woman delivered from seven demons becomes one of his closest disciples. A Samaritan woman goes from being serial monogamist to missionary in about 15 minutes. A diminutive tax collector and cheat returns everything he’s taken, with interest. A coward who betrayed and denied Him becomes the martyred cornerstone of His message. And, His chief persecutor becomes His greatest advocate.
Which brings me to the final wonderful thing about our Wonderful Counselor. Every other counselor wants you to buy his book, watch his show, listen to his program, be his friend, or pay his bill. This one says, “It’s on Me, because it was ALL on Me.” Beyond description.