It’s rare for me to become seriously discouraged for longer than a few hours or so, and I can only think of 4 times in life when I have been really incredibly discouraged, burdened, and down-trodden.
Out of those 4, there have been 2 moments when God has used the words of John Piper to encourage my down-trodden heart. The first was my junior year in college. I was a brand new RA. I felt incredibly alone in my ministry. I didn’t have a desire to be in the Word. And I wasn’t delighting in God. I really felt the weight of my sin in not enjoying and treasuring God– especially feeling like I had to lead these girls in something I couldn’t even do. I was beating myself up day after day for not delighting in God like I should. I can’t really describe the intensity of that time because right now it feels silly– but at the time it was very real. I really hated that I didn’t love God and didn’t know what to do about it so I grew really discouraged. Then, one night on lounge duty I was listening to a Q&A from Piper’s conference on Jonathan Edwards and he said something I remember to this day:
“It’s DEVASTATING! None of us delights in God the way that we should! And that’s why we’re sorrowful yet always rejoicing, not because of cancer and children and the like, but because of our sin!”
It was in that moment that I realized a) That I am not alone in my struggle to satisfy my soul on God and God alone and delight in Him above all else; b) That this is what they call the fight of faith and I will fight it until I die; c) Even great and godly men don’t delight in God the way they should. Praise the Lord for John Piper’s humility to admit that. As a man who is a prominent leader in evangelicalism and has written so many books on the topic, it would be easy to be tempted to speak as if he has it all together and delights in God all the time. But it was his weakness that encouraged me– hmmm, that reminds me of another man who was content to boast of his weaknesses (1 Corinthians 12).
So all that to say, the 2nd moment came two nights ago. John Piper recently gave a message to college students and this part hit me so hard tears began to fall down my cheeks as I read:
“You know, I went 4 years to Wheaton, 3 years to Fuller, 3 years to graduate school and at age 28 did not know what I wanted to do when I grew up.
I just knew a few central realities: I love the Bible. I want to use it to help other people obey it for Jesus’ sake.
That leaves open a lot of possibilities!”
Again, I was encouraged that it’s okay that I’m 23, getting my master’s degree in counseling, and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I just know that I love Christ and I want to help other people love Him and know how to live that out. All of the sudden my soul was flooded with hope that it’s okay to get my MABC even if I don’t know what I am going to do with it when I get out. And it’s okay that I spent 4 years of my life being trained in biblical counseling even though I am not doing anything related to biblical counseling right now. And that it’s okay that I still don’t know what I want to be and change my mind weekly.
I’ve said time and time again that there are a few things I know I love: Christ, Biblical Counseling, and the Church. The way that plays into what I do as a profession can look a million different ways. But I feel encouraged that I am not alone and that a man like John Piper felt the same way I do when he was my age. I don’t know if that will make sense to anyone…but it encouraged my little heart on Tuesday night after lot of prayer and seeking and begging the Lord for light in the midst of darkness.