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The medical test comes back positive for cancer. Your doctor suggests surgery, followed by chemotherapy. You sit there in his office, numb. You try to digest the diagnosis, but you can’t think straight.
You go home, come to terms with what you’ve heard, and you do some online research about your particular type of cancer. You’re seeing conflicting information. You talk to your husband and a close girlfriend. Both advise you to seek a second opinion.
You take their advice, and you go to a second doctor. He believes chemo won’t be necessary, but he advises you to have the surgery. He thinks radiation might be an option for avoiding chemotherapy. His words about the need for surgery sound very similar to the first doctor’s opinion.
After weighing the two doctors’ ideas about treatment and doing more online research, you come to peace that you will go ahead with surgery and then see if there is a need for further treatment or not. You will trust the doctor to make the best decision after tissue is examined.
I’m switching subjects, but the application is the same.
What do you do when you don’t know how to answer a spiritual question? It could be a question you’re asking personally, or it might be in a counseling situation.
Let me share some guidelines for making hard decisions about what’s right and wrong or if your words of counsel will be sound.
- Open the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word and therefore always the first second opinion you need. What does God think? What does He say? Many times, this will clear up your conundrum right away.
- Pray for wisdom. I’ve found so many times that the answer becomes clear when I take this simple step! If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5).
- Ask your husband. God has given husbands the ability to see issues from another perspective than their wives. Almost always, they’ll look at different angles and make their considerations in a different way. The Bible says, And if they (women in church) will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home (1 Corinthians 14:35a). I find it helpful, when I have a doubt, to ask my husband’s opinion. It’s a win-win, by the way: I get excellent advice and I build him up, because I value his opinion.
- Ask godly counselors. The key is to ask people you respect in the Lord, those who know their Bibles and will give good, sound, biblical counsel. Personally, my pastor husband and I have asked our pastor and his wife—older and wiser people—for their counsel on some of the hard questions we’ve had to deal with. Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14. Similar advice can be found in Proverbs 15:22 and 24:6.)
- Once you know what’s right, act. So many people want to confirm their own sin when they ask for advice. They’re hoping the counselor will agree with them (approving the sin) or will take their side (in a dispute) or will have pity (because of friendship). But we really do want to know God’s will. Once we know, it’s time to do the right thing. It might not be easy, but we’ll know we’re doing right.
May God bless you!