I was so sad when I received the news that Dr. Laura Hendrickson passed away on Monday, February 24. Dr. Hendrickson was a medical doctor and board certified psychiatrist. She was the author of numerous resources including Will Medicine Stop the Pain: Finding God’s Healing for Depression, Anxiety, and Other Troubling Emotions (with Elyse Fitzpatrick), and Finding your Child’s Way on the Autism Spectrum: Discovering Unique Strengths, Mastering Behavior Challenges. Dr. Hendrickson was a long-standing member of The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and had a powerful counseling ministry at The Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship. She was a founding council board member of the Biblical Counseling Coalition.
Dr. Hendrickson had a long and distinguished career, but many of us knew her simply as Laura. I first met Laura years ago at an ACBC annual conference (when we still called ourselves NANC). Laura was thrilled to be there and was buzzing around like a bee talking to and catching up with everyone she saw. We shared a delightful and enlightening conversation. I would learn later that our conversation that day would constitute the beginning of our friendship.
Years later, Laura was one of the very first people that Stuart Scott and I asked to contribute to our book Counseling the Hard Cases: True Stories Illustrating the Sufficiency of God’s Resources in Scripture. The case study that Laura wrote about her counseling experience with a deeply troubled young woman named “Mariana” was a beautiful and brilliant display of the kind of first rate counseling that Laura engaged in.
In addition to contributing to the book she served as a sort of “medical science editor” for it. Laura exposed several chapters to her lovingly ruthless scrutiny. She was passionate that faithful biblical counseling be authentic, not only in its application of Scriptural wisdom, but also in its faithfulness to the common grace of good medical science. The conversations I had with Laura during the editorial work on that book were fun, illuminating, constructive, and convicting. Laura’s expertise helped many chapters in that book beyond the one she wrote.
Laura’s medical acumen was impressive, but the thing I appreciated most was her commitment to God’s Word. When I learned of her passing I went back and had a look at some of the documents from her application process to ACBC. I was struck most profoundly by this portion of an answer to one of our questions:
“I began my work in counseling as a psychiatrist. I now identify myself exclusively as a nouthetic counselor. I no longer practice medicine or psychiatry and do not accept integrationist or psychological theories of counseling. The Bible is my sole source for understanding man’s problems and how they are to be solved.” – April 7, 2005
Here was a woman who had the finest medical and scientific training that the world has to offer and she traded it all in to be a minister of the Word of Christ to broken and troubled people. I fight back tears as I write those words, and as I pray for God’s grace to make me half the person Laura was.
I am so thankful for Laura’s faithfulness and friendship. All our prayers at ACBC right now are directed towards Laura’s friends and family experiencing such a tragic loss.
Our grief over Laura’s passing would not be appropriate if we did not turn our hearts to the sufficient Word in which Laura trusted. That Word reminds us of the glorious truth that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).
As I dwell on that promise today I’m aware that one of God’s good gifts to us has been the life, ministry, and friendship of Dr. Laura Hendrickson.