My ideal of discipleship involved weekly meetings, formal Bible studies, answers to hard questions, and in-depth counseling. But this wasn’t what God provided at the time. Rather, God provided me with something much less intentional, but no less formative—a family who showed us hospitality. You see, discipleship doesn’t only take place in quiet rooms with books, Bibles, and coffee—it also takes place in the bustling homes of our fellow brothers and sisters as well.
But on this Father’s Day, we can still be encouraged. Though we may rightly lament the pain our earthly fathers caused (and seek help if we are in an abusive situation), we can also find hope in our sonship with our Heavenly Father. Though our earthly dads fathered us in sin, he fathers us in perfection and righteousness. We are not fatherless.
Christina Fox’s book Sufficient Hope came to me during one of those waves of floundering and showed me what I truly needed: to be reminded of the gospel. “Whatever experiences we face in motherhood, we all need Jesus—and he is sufficient. That’s what this book is about: our need for the gospel of Jesus Christ. In every moment, in every season, and whatever our circumstances, the gospel is sufficient to give us hope” (p. 14).
What we see outlined in Ephesians 4:22-24 is not a one-time instruction manual with promises of immediate success. Instead, it is a place we will return to often, probably with the same struggles, and the order may change. But God is faithful, and he will bring us to completion in his timing and lead us as we put off sin, renew our minds, and put on the new self.
In the Fall, both soul and body were broken by sin. Our bodies were then plagued by sicknesses and diseases, and ultimately death. Our bodies would be pushed and worked hard in order to survive. What was created to live with God in perfect relationship forever would now return to the dust it came from—but not without enduring physical hardships. But before this, when God formed us, he declared the whole of us as good—not just the soul. Both are created by God, both are created to glorify him, and both will be redeemed by God.
I am not writing this article as a professional, experienced counselorstriving to teach other counselors—I am nothing of the sorts. I am writing this as a believer who has battled her way through the thorns of doubt, and who has discerned both the goodand poor counsel given from others. I also come with humility, recognizing the times I have given the same gut-wrenching, doubt-inducing counsel that was once given to me. If there is anything to be taken away from this, I hope it is this: Let’s counsel those who doubt with the gospel—not their works.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you love the snow, but the beating down of the summer sun makes you cranky. Or maybe you’re sick of trudging through muck and puddles from the seemingly endless rain. I’ve been there too. I didn’t think much of it—its just what everyone does. Complain about the weather, maybe try to find something good in it, if you can. I had little consideration for my complaints because I was so used to hearing them—from both my own mouth the mouths of others. Until I saw myself wandering the wilderness with the grumbling Israelites.
Perhaps you’ve heard this variation: “Depression, anxiety, heartbreak—you are not bound to living that way. You don’t have to suffer anymore. Freedom exists in Jesus. Come to him and find freedom.” This is a false gospel. This gospel motivates people to believe in it by presenting your best life now if you’ll just come to Jesus. This is a damning lie. Jesus doesn’t take away your suffering—he promises it (John 16:33). And because we live in a fallen world, your body will fail you—both mentally and physically. But the true gospel, presents a truth much greater than this prosperity gospel could ever conjure up.
With the admonition to be slow to speak should come the caveat, So be slow to assume. Based on one action, with no thought on the past, I had conjured up an assumption of my husband that was far from true. Offering no charity, I assumed the worst of my husband’s motives. Maybe it’s ironic and hypocritical, but I’m assuming I’m not the only one. I believe many of our conversations as believers would be much more edifying and our relationships much less tense if we lived by the phrase, “Love hopes all things,” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Our relationships within the church could be more unified if we remember the grace and charity we have been shown by Christ, who knew the depths and sins of our hearts, and seek to show charity to one another in our assumptions of each others words and motives.
In the church today, you probably didn’t even have to read one of those books to hear the term spiritual leadership tossed around. We hear the plea, “I just want to find a man who will lead me spiritually,” or, “I’m so sick of my husband not taking up his role of leading me spiritually.” Perhaps you share that plea. Maybe the man you married hasn’t turned out to be the spiritual leader of your dreams. If so, there are two temptations I’d like to encourage you to guard yourself from: Taking up your chisels to carve your husbands into an idol, or carving yourself into an idol for him.
Do You Struggle With Anxiety?
I do too. So each month, I send out a monthly newsletter where I discuss anxiety, giving resources and Bible verses to help you in your daily struggle. I also created a five day devotional Finding Freedom From Anxiety that you receive for free because you are a subscriber. Sign up if you want to join in the conversation.