Over the past few months, I’ve struggled with linking my identity to my job. When I was an English teacher, I had no problem saying, “I’m an English teacher.” I had trained to be an English teacher and loved my job; I liked having “English teacher” as part of my identity. Now that I’m no longer an English teacher and I’m doing a job that requires little brain power and training, I have a harder time relating my current job to my identity. So, when someone asks me what I do, I don’t know what to say, because I don’t want my identity to be tied up in my work. Yesterday, I was discouraged about my current job and the uncertainty of the future, and I allowed myself to dwell on the negative aspects of my current work situation until I felt slightly depressed.
As I was closing up the department for the night, two things happened that helped correct my thinking about my work and my identity. First, my brother stopped by and gave me a hug, which was really sweet; I felt like God knew I needed that hug. When I almost started crying after Zeke left, I realized that I was more upset than I had thought. That realization led to the second thing that helped me last night: I decided to put into practice my theory that the gospel applies to every situation of life.
So, as I was washing dishes, I started musing about the gospel and how it applies to discouragement about my work. My mind went back to a favorite passage in Ephesians 1:
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
I started reflecting on the many spiritual blessings that are available to me in Christ–forgiveness, salvation, acceptance, adoption, inheritance, the Holy Spirit. Over the last few months, I’ve spent a lot of time studying and meditating on these verses, and once again I was comforted by the surety and stability of these truths. As I thought about these things, I remembered–once again–that all of these blessings are available to me, a believer and follower of Christ, because of Christ.
Notice the repetition of references to Christ in this passage:
- “in Christ” we have been blessed “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (vs. 3)
- “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (vs. 4)
- “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ”
- “he has blessed us in the Beloved” (vs. 6)
- “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (vs. 7)
- God has made “known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ” (vs. 8-9)
- He united “all things in him” (vs. 10)
- “In him we have obtained an inheritance (vs. 11)
- “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (vs. 13-14)