Finding Jesus and getting saved is the beginning of the cure for whatever ails people. But until they have met Him and had that experience, it’s difficult or impossible for most people to believe that such a cure-all exists. So even though you know the answer to their problems and could immediately prescribe the cure, they probably won’t be very eager to trust themselves into your care unless you give them a chance to explain their symptoms. How much faith would you place in a doctor who tells you right off the bat that he knows just what you need, before you’ve even told him what your problem is? Even if the patient is covered from head to toe in visible, outward symptoms that positively identify the problem, any doctor knows to start by asking questions.
Asking questions is more than a mere formality, courtesy, or ploy to gain the patient’s trust. Even though the problem may seem obvious, no doctor in his right mind would begin treatment based solely on what experience or his medical books tell him. By listening carefully to the patient’s explanation of the problem and its symptoms, the doctor is able to confirm his diagnosis and learn important information that will help determine the treatment, dosages, etc. Some patients are very forthcoming and open in their answers to even fairly personal questions, while the doctor needs to draw the answers out of others.
Unlike with physical illnesses, it’s sometimes hard for people to recognize or admit that their spirits are “sick,” but until they do, they are not going to accept their doctor’s advice and prescription. As their soul doctor, you need to help them see that there is something wrong, but the more you can let them come to that conclusion themselves, the better—especially if you were the one to initiate the “checkup.”
Only after all that is the doctor in a position to prescribe the treatment—and that’s as far as the doctor can go, really. It’s then up to the patient to believe the doctor and take the prescribed medicine or follow through with the prescribed treatment or therapy. The patient must decide what to do with the doctor’s diagnosis.
Kumiko is 24 years old. Her older brother was killed in a car accident a few years ago, and her parents divorced. Because these things happened, she decided not to believe in God anymore. When I met her, she was very discouraged and only talked negatively about her life and other people.
She started phoning me whenever she was having a hard time with her friends or colleagues. Most of the calls were after midnight and lasted for over an hour. Sometimes she would cry and say, “I should kill myself. There’s no use in living.” I would listen and try to encourage her and tell her that no matter what others said about her, Jesus loved her and saw all her good points. I told her that someday her tender nature and other gifts would win out, so she shouldn’t let them get clouded over by the seemingly bad things. I also told her that I would pray for her, and I did. Then one night she prayed with me to receive Jesus as her Savior.
After that, Kumiko gradually changed. Eventually she told me that she had started crying out to Jesus whenever she had troubles or felt low. We saw each other again recently, and she was so different! She could laugh about her immature reactions to things that had upset her so terribly before. Then she told me something that touched me deeply: About a month earlier, she had been in the depths of despair and had decided to end her life. At midnight she had driven to the sea, and was about to throw herself in. But suddenly she thought of me, and started praying to Jesus. She changed her mind and made it safely home. I was so happy and relieved to hear that!
Often it had not been easy for me to listen to Kumiko go on and on about her problems, especially when I was really tired or trying to finish some pressing work before bed. (I translate publications from The Family International into Japanese.) At first, she didn’t seem to be changing or growing spiritually, but the Lord kept telling me that she didn’t have anybody else to encourage or help her. Through this, I think I learned more than Kumiko about the greatness of Jesus’ love. He is teaching me to have more love, patience, and mercy for others, especially those who are lost and looking for real love and answers for their questions.—Akiko Matsumoto