After the birth of our second child, I developed postpartum depression and anxiety almost immediately. I dub it as one of the worst episodes I ever dealt with; mainly due to its duration. I do not pay tribute to religion for this particular anxiety phase. I know it was caused by hormones. Even still, once I found myself down in the pit, my mind wandered down that same path. My function level was so low that I stopped breast-feeding just so I could take a fast acting nerve pill. My obstetrician prescribed Xanax. It did nothing. It might as well have been a sugar pill. Maybe it was.
The theological issue I focused on this go around was the doctrine of election. Our church recently completed a study titled, Christ-Centered Evangelism. The speaker brought home the fact that one does not “choose” God, rather God chooses the person. At first, this idea did not bother me. I knew from my own salvation experience that God had done something to cause me to desire him. I knew I did not believe in him because I made an academic survey of all religions and Christianity made the most sense. I just believed. However, when the anxiety gave rise to analyzation, my thoughts took off.
Why did God choose me and not my neighbor down the street?
What if my children aren’t chosen?
So, there’s nothing I can say to convince someone to follow Jesus?
No one asked to be born. How can God not even give certain people a chance at having a relationship with him?
God just creates people in order to send them to Hell?
Once my mind landed safely and I was back to normal, I voiced my concerns to our small group leader named Kevin. Kevin just so happened to be the one who orchestrated the Calvinism study. He described the ideology as a potter who has the right to make a pot anyway he desires (See Romans 9 below). Should he choose to destroy the pot, that is completely his business. Kevin relayed all this with a calm smile on his face.
I found it horrifying.
“Well, when a pot is destroyed, it doesn’t feel pain.” I continued, “How is our God any better than Allah? We rationalize disbelief in Allah due to his terrorizing nature.”
“What you need to understand is that if God did not decide to save SOME people, EVERYONE would be in Hell,” he explained.
I could tell I was getting nowhere, so I left the conversation unresolved. Eventually, I felt peace with election. At least when someone ended up in Hell, it was no fault of mine.
I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could [a]wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: through Isaac your descendants will be named.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel [l]for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. As He says also in Hosea,
“I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’
And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’”
“And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not My people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.”
Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved; for the Lord will execute His word on the earth,thoroughly and quickly.” And just as Isaiah foretold,
“Unless the Lord of Sabbath had left to us a posterity,
We would have become like Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah.”
What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written,
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,
And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”