Hard Seasons and Future Grace
May 13, 2021
by David Ward
“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24b, NIV).
Dentistry has the capacity to cause low morale. This has been evident not only personally, but I hear it from colleagues/former classmates and social media. Low morale can be attributed to all the dynamics of being a dentist, including clinic responsibilities, staff/co-workers and personal matters. Feelings of anger/frustration, despondency, diffidence, anxiety, self-doubt, depression, fear, worry, loneliness, burnout and all the like, a dentist will experience. However, the truth is that everyone will experience it throughout the course of life, and it does not matter the profession. My wife is an emergency room nurse, my dad is a small business owner, my brother is a director of strength training and my mother is a customer service agent. Over the years, I have heard them all express what is described above. However, it was those seasons and the help of my brother that led to the message of this blog.
A few months ago, I shared with my brother about a low-morale season in my life. After hearing all his similar experiences, he introduced me to two books titled Self-forgetfulness by Tim Keller and Future Grace by John Piper. These two books are beneficial to changing perspectives during seasons of low morale. In Self-forgetfulness, Tim Keller elaborates on apostle Paul’s message to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 3:21-4:7) about the importance of only caring about what God thinks about us. That message is based on the problem that during these low-morale seasons faith is low, and the focus is on ourselves. However, this problem is corrected with gospel-humility. In gospel-humility, it is not about thinking more or less of ourselves, but just simply “thinking about ourselves less” and focusing more on God and others. This is important because our focus is redirected toward the most important weapon against the lies of the enemy and our lack of faith when morale is low, and that is God’s future grace.
In the book Future Grace, John Piper characterizes in great detail the theology of future grace. However, it is simply summarized in chapter one as “the belief in God’s promises, and the embrace of God’s person (Jesus Christ). It is a sense of confident security in God’s promised gifts, and a sense of contented satisfaction in God himself.” This point reminds me of two things. First, the incredible moment and realization of what Jesus Christ had accomplished once He rose from the dead and first spoke to Mary. He said, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17b, NIV). The significance of this moment is that Jesus confirms that we now have a relationship with God that we did not have before. Second, this relationship is equivalent to the relationship God has with Jesus; we are His children and co-inheritors with Christ (Romans 8:17). Therefore, we get hope in our low morale because of what Christ accomplished. However, the problem arises when the season comes, and the question is, “To what/who are we submitting?” Is it our flesh, or is it the will of the Father? Having struggled with my own flesh submissions, God did reveal something to me, and it came through my son.
The other day, we were riding in the car, and my son asked me, “Hey Daddy, are you proud of me because I helped Mommy and Ella today?” Like some divine intervention, in an instant understanding about Future Grace I simply said, “Son, I am proud of you because you are my son.” If we could only step back in our low morale season, and recognize how God views us, we will understand that because of Jesus, God sees us as He sees His Son. With that hope, we will have good days and bad days, but thank God we have the heavenly Father that we do, and He is in control of our lives. Therefore, as a word of encouragement: when in a season of low morale, be reminded of the trustworthy promises of God in Galatians 4:6, “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father’” (NIV).