Dr. Frank Lake was that rarest of beasts: a clinical psychologist, a pastoral counselor, and a learned theologian. Not surprisingly, we consider him a hero. In his landmark Clinical Theology, a textbook for pastoral counselors and theologically serious therapists, he relates classic Protestant anthropology and Christology to the process of psychoanalysis, using real-world case studies (and the Bible) as his foundation. The following is a characteristically profound quote on the simultaneity of human weakness and divine strength, viewed through a clinical lens:

The nature of the help God gives through His Church is to make what cannot be removed, creatively bearable. Paul’s thorn of weakness in the flesh remained. Resting in the power of God, he could glory in his infirmity. It is natural, and it is, I think, spiritually desirable, that we should at first strive and pray, as Paul did, to have our weakness and negativities removed. But the utmost of personal effort and of professional skill may disappoint our hopes in this direction. What then? There are no lectures in the medial course to inform the doctor of the paradoxical movement of the spirit which can turn decisively away from the evidently vain hope of a cure, to a courageous bearing, and more, to a creative using of the pain and loss that cannot be cured. There is a strength which is made perfect in weakness. Without the prior weakness this particular endowment of strength could never be experienced. Medical practice must extend itself to prevent the outward man from perishing. Pastoral practice, recognising a certain inevitability of failure in this entirely laudable object, extends itself to ensure that the inward man is concurrently renewed from day to day.

The natural man in us tends to reject the paradox that mental pain and spiritual joy can exist together in us, without diminishing either the agony of the one or the glory of the other. The whole personality may be afflicted by a sense of weakness, emptiness, and pointlessness, without diminishing in the least our spiritual power and effectiveness.  This is possible because Christ is alive to re-enact the mystery of his suffering and glory in us.  So far as our own subjective feelings are concerned, any inner-directed questioning of our basic human state may produce the same dismal answer as before; the cupboard is bare.  While we regard our humanity as a container which ought to have something good in it when we look inside, we miss the whole point of the paradox.  We are not meant to be self-contained, but channels of the life and energies of God Himself. From this point of view our wisdom is to let the bottom be knocked out of our humanity, which will ruin it as a container at the same time it turns it into a satisfactory channel….

We must expect that the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the fullness of life within the Body of Christ will force out the alien elements of despair, distrust, anxiety, rage, envy, lust, and the like, which are each man’s deposits from the intolerable passivities of infancy, to declare themselves before they are cast out.