Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders ‘Counting On’ Star Shares Her Struggle With Spiritual Depression

‘Counting On’ Star Shares Her Struggle With Spiritual Depression

Counting On

Jessa Duggar Seewald grew up in the public eye as one of the “19 Kids and Counting” Duggar children. She is the Duggar family’s fifth child. 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 the previous show “19 Kids and Counting,” and 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. In the video, which she titled “My Journey from Doubt and Depression to Grace,” she explains that while 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, rather “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 who knew that she had security in Christ, Jessa reached out to her parents and had a conversation about her doubts and insecurity over 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. Jessa said that a lot of “well-meaning” parents and pastors get it wrong when talking to a person about their doubts about salvation. She gave some examples of how false assurance sometimes is given to others. For instance, one example is “Just look back to the date to whenever you committed your life to the Lord.” Another was, “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 asked Jesus into your heart and whenever you have doubts look back at the date tell him [the devil] ‘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.

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, or something that we should be doing such as doing good to others, caring for the souls of others by sharing the gospel with them, etc. Another reason we fall into valleys of doubt and depression is trials like family issues. Instead of running to Jesus for comfort, we become numb and don’t seek the help we need.

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.” 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. 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 yesterdays and that’s okay, not that we become content, but that we don’t allow that to draw us into spiritual depression.” Jessa said she appreciated that John Piper was “being real about this.”

“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,” Jessa said. Another encouragement that John Piper gave her was when he explained there is nowhere in the Bible that says a Christian has to read the Bible everyday. Jessa explained she “hinged” her Christian worth on whether she had a good daily quiet time or not.