Trusting God’s Design
by Kristi Meyer
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
To the woman [God] said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:6, 7, 16-19).
As a math professor, I’ve come to realize that my students sometimes have a hard time with certain concepts. They generally understand most of these concepts without too much difficulty. But they struggle with the reason that the concepts are important. Why does it matter whether they include a dx or not, when they’ll get the right answer either way?
Unfortunately, my students don’t have the necessary background to grasp why these concepts are indeed important. I, on the other hand, do comprehend their importance—because I can see the whole picture. I know that although including a dx now doesn’t make any difference, it will be absolutely crucial in future classes. As much as I might try, though, I can’t explain that to my students right now. They lack the perspective to see what is coming.
What do I do? I ask my students to trust me. I’m usually honest in telling them that they don’t understand now why these concepts are important. And it’s possible, depending on how many more math classes they take, that they’ll never learn about that importance. They just need to trust that I am leading them down the right path and emphasizing these concepts for a good reason.
Similarly, God sees the whole picture in a way that we cannot. His wisdom is absolute, and his creation was perfect, although it is now marred by sin. We can always trust that he has our good in mind, even though that’s sometimes hard to see—especially when it comes to various facets of the unique callings of men and women.
Looking At the Positives
Sometimes, living out our helper calling is hard and uncomfortable. It can feel inferior, restrictive, of lesser worth and value. There is plenty of baggage associated with the word “helper,” and we’ll explore that more fully in a couple of weeks. We’ll also be talking in more detail about the purpose for which Eve was created. For now, remember that Eve was created for Adam and from Adam to be his perfect partner and helper.
Although our sinful nature might try to convince us otherwise, the point isn’t that Adam was more important because he was created first. Nor is the point that Adam was to rule over Eve in a dictatorial way. No, the point is that God gave Adam and Eve unique callings in order to bring order to his newly created world, to foster and cultivate the relationships that exist among all living things, and to enable Adam and Eve to carry out his command of filling the earth and subduing it. When we focus on these positives, it’s easier to understand our unique calling as women and our place in God’s creation.
God gave Adam and Eve unique callings in order to bring order to his newly created world, to foster and cultivate the relationships that exist among all living things, and to enable Adam and Eve to carry out his command of filling the earth and subduing it.
That’s not enough to fully put the issue to bed for many of us, though, and we’ll continue to work through those feelings and concepts over the course of this devotional series. Despite having thoroughly studied—and even written several academic papers on—the biblical principles involved with the unique calling of men and women, there are still plenty of times when I struggle with my helper calling. But as long as I am not actively rebelling—as long as I am not giving in to my sinful nature—those struggles are OK for me to have, and they’re OK for you to have too.
Dealing With Other Imperfect People
Women aren’t the only ones who struggle with their helper calling. Sometimes men also have a hard time faithfully living out their own unique calling of head. That’s a whole other topic for a whole other devotional series, but it would be disingenuous to write a devotion on struggling with our callings without at least mentioning the subject. Every situation is different, and so there are no helpful blanket statements, no specific lists of “dos” and “don’ts” when dealing with a man who is not fulfilling his role of head. However, some general thoughts may be helpful.
Every situation is different, and so there are no helpful blanket statements, no specific lists of “dos” and “don’ts” when dealing with a man who is not fulfilling his role of head.
In the home, a husband and father can abdicate his responsibility and fail to act as the spiritual head of his household. In this situation, wives are first called to support their husband and encourage him to take this spiritual responsibility, offering this support in whatever way is appropriate for their marriage and relationship. If a husband still fails to take spiritual responsibility for his family, then a wife is called upon to take on that responsibility herself and make sure her children are being trained in the way of the Lord. This can be uncomfortable and difficult, and I don’t mean to minimize those difficulties. Instead, remember that it isn’t inappropriate for wives to step up and assume spiritual responsibility if their husband fails to do so.
In the church, it can also feel as though men are failing to step up and lead—especially when there are vacant board positions or when certain tasks just don’t seem to be getting done. Again, serving as an encourager is important here. If there’s someone you know who would be a perfect fit for a vacant position, say that to him. If there’s a way you can support those in authority and enable them to faithfully live out their callings, do so, especially by remembering them in your prayers.
Explaining Our Unique Callings to the World
Trying to explain the unique callings of men and women to those around us often seems like a battle that simply isn’t worth fighting. More often than not, we’ll be told that these callings are outdated and misogynistic, that they are demeaning to women, or that they are overly restrictive and inappropriate for today’s day and age.
But God’s original intent still stands, and we can trust in that intent even when the good and the blessings are hard to see.
When dealing with such comments, remember the theme that will be a constant throughout this summer devotional series: God established these callings to establish good order and to bring us blessings. The fall into sin made that much more difficult than it was in the perfection of creation. But God’s original intent still stands, and we can trust in that intent even when the good and the blessings are hard to see.
Since we are discussing applications, it’s also important to note that applications are not prescribed nor commanded by God. In particular, different congregations are organized and function in different ways because of different situations and different ministry circumstances. As long as congregations are organized and function in ways that are in line with the biblical principles, not all congregations need to apply these biblical principles in the same way. It is not wrong for congregations to differ from each other in practice as long as these practices—these applications—are faithful to the principles found in God’s Word.
We see God’s wisdom fully on display in his plan of salvation. From the first promise of the Savior in Genesis 3 to the fulfillment of that promise in a Bethlehem stable, from Jesus’ sinless life to his innocent death to his glorious resurrection on Easter morning, we can see God bring everything together perfectly to redeem a sinful and fallen human race.
And because we can trust God’s wisdom as it plays out in his plan of salvation, we can also trust this wisdom in all other aspects of our lives. In particular, although we can’t always see the full picture when it comes to our unique callings, we can trust that God designed these callings wisely and for our good. Although these callings have been tainted and tarnished by sin, they are still designed to bring us blessings—blessings that trump all the consternation and discomfort our unique callings sometimes bring.
For Further Reflection
- What blessings have you found in living out your unique calling?
- How well does everyone in your local congregation fulfill their unique callings? If there’s room for growth (and—because we live in a sinful world—there likely is), how could you help facilitate this growth?
- What conversations have you had with those outside the church regarding the WELS’ position on the unique callings of men and women? How were you able to witness to God’s wisdom even if the other person didn’t fully understand why these unique callings still exist in today’s “modern” world?
Lord God, Adam and Eve rebelled against you in the Garden of Eden, and the entire human race has been rebelling against you ever since. Forgive us when we resist the unique callings you have created for us. Bless our efforts to faithfully live out these callings in the home, the church, and the world, and give us the words to share the blessings associated with these callings to a skeptical and unbelieving world around us. Amen.