Jessa Duggar Seewald grew up in the public eye as one of the ‘19 Kids and Counting‘ children. She is the fifth child in the popular Duggar’s family of 19 children. Jessa married Benjamin Seewald in November of 2014, and they have three children together. She currently stars on the TLC show ‘Counting On‘ which is a spin-off of their previous show ’19 Kids and Counting’, which focuses on the lives of the older Duggar children.
This past Sunday, Jessa posted video on social media that has received over 600k views, where she gave her testimony of how the Lord saved her ,which she titled ‘My Journey from Doubt and Depression to Grace‘. In the video, she explains that growing up in the church, she prayed to receive Christ as her Savior at a young age, but didn’t fully understand what she was doing by ‘praying the prayer’.
If anybody was the problem child of the family I probably could claim that title.
She said that there was no fruit of the Holy Spirit “just a lot of patterns of sin; selfishness, self-focus, self-seeking,” and explained that she went to church because her friends were there. Doubts about her salvation grew over the years, and every time the pastor gave an invitation to pray the prayer of salvation she repeated it to give herself security that she was ‘safe’ and was a Christian. At twelve, after a discussion with one of her sisters that knew that she had security in Christ, Jessa reached out to her parents and had a conversation about her doubts and insecurity of her salvation in Jesus.
Parents and Pastors Sometimes Mislead
“They didn’t pat me on the back and tell me ‘Oh honey that the devil, don’t listen to that,’” Jessa said of her parents’ response and pointed out that a lot of ‘well-meaning’ parents and pastors get it wrong when talking to a person about their doubts of salvation. She gave some examples of how false assurance sometimes is given to others, one was “Just look back to the date to whenever to committed your life to the Lord.” Another was, “They’ll tell them this is the devil trying to get you down, and don’t listen to the devil.” Another popular one she said is, “Write the date in your Bible when you ask Jesus into your heart and whenever you have doubts look back at the date tell him ‘to get lost.’” She emphasized that writing the date down in your Bible is nowhere in the Bible.
Pointed to the Gospel
Her parents pointed her to the gospel, and her dad wasn’t afraid to share with Jessa that he too had doubts when he was a teenager. After her parents explained the gospel with her, she made the decision to trust in Christ and repent of her sins and this time her heart slowly began to change. The transformation of her heart brought an assurance to her salvation because she could only credit God with these habit changes, saying “I couldn’t change these things on my own…God was at work in my life…one of the biggest changes is that I wanted to be in God’s Word, I never really ‘wanted’ to read my Bible before.” She also explained that relationships with her siblings that were broken and strained were slowly being repaired because God gave her a renewed spirit of joy.
Doubts Came Back
Jessa explained that she grew in Christ from age twelve to age seventeen then hit a plateau where she became frustrated she wasn’t where she wanted to be in her walk with Christ. This led her to begin to doubt her salvation again, and struggled with previous doubts because she knew she was a believer in Jesus but felt like she should be doing more, “I felt unsettled, restless, frustrated, and even angry sometimes,” she said. “I think if Christians were more open about the hard times, I think if Christians were more raw, you might find that more people go through this than you realize,” Jessa shared as she encouraged others to be open so that they could help others who struggle with the same doubts.
Why We Go Through Valleys
She gave great examples of why someone might be going through a valley that leads to doubting Christ’s work in one’s life: “It might be that there’s a certain sin that has a hold in our life and we’re clinging to that sin and that’s caused our relationship with the Lord to be distant.” Another example she gave was a possible sin of omission, that’s not exactly sinful as it may seem to us, but it is because it is something that we should be doing such as doing good to others, caring for the souls of others by sharing the gospel with them. Trials like family issues cause valleys and doubts that make us numb instead of running to Jesus for comfort, she also said as reason we fall into valleys of doubt and depression.
I Was Spiritually Depressed
“If someone asked me if I was depressed I would have said no, but I guess you could call it spiritual depression.” When people are asked, especially at church, “How are you? ‘Oh great fine,’ people don’t just open up and share about dark times or hard times like we should. We’re not as transparent as we should be. We’re not as raw as we should be,” she says this type of action causes people to suffer in silence.
This Helped Me
Jessa shared what helped her during her hard times and helped her get ‘unstuck from the rut’ she felt like she was in. Listening to sermons and podcasts online throughout the week provided encouragement and she recalled listening to a John Piper sermon as she often does, where he explained that the old hymn ‘Everyday with Jesus (Sweeter than the Day Before)‘ was not true. This helped her realize that some days my relationship with Jesus isn’t as good as yesterday’s and that’s okay, not that we become content, but that we don’t allow that to draw us into spiritual depression. “Hey this is John Piper, and he is being real about this,” she expressed her appreciation for that how it encouraged her.
“I had burdened down my conscience with an unscriptural expectation of (how) I have to have a quiet time everyday that looks just like this, and I’d be so discouraged (because) I didn’t get my time in the Word this morning,” was another encouragement that John Piper gave her when he explained there is nowhere in the Bible that said a Christian has to read the Bible everyday. Jessa explained she ‘hinged’ her Christian worth on whether she had good daily quiet time or not.