Anchored Voices is a collaborative blog founded by Chara Donahue where Christians can use their words and creativity to point each other to the God who cares. It was conceived to foster a hope-filled community where we can remind one another that when the waves of life hit—in Jesus, the soul is safe. You can read more from them at AnchoredVoices.com.
I’ve been struggling to thrive lately, pulled in every direction by life’s constant changes. I’m thankful and content one minute, then discontent or afraid the next as I remember all the unknowns and ‘what ifs’of what lies ahead.
Meanwhile, I keep thinking of the apostle Paul – a man who’d been through shipwrecks, prison, and all sorts of things, yet learned to be content in every kind of situation. I want to learn the same.
What does it mean to thrive when life is good, but my soul is still restless and discontent – hungering for something more? How do I thrive when life constantly fluctuates from one extreme to the next – full of joy and redemption; loss and grief; deep friendship or loneliness, and daunting unknowns? Circumstances are ever changing.
When I start grasping for hope and stability in the world around me, I come up short, floundering through every change and disappointment. But when I take my question back to Scripture, Jesus draws my eyes away from my fears and back to himself.
“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”(Matthew 11:28)
“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22)
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.” (Isaiah 55:1-2)
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.”(Jeremiah 17:7-8)
In the Old Testament, the prophet Habakkuk describes a day when the fruit trees will not produce, the crops will fail, and the stables will be empty; nothing is left. In an agricultural society, this could mean starvation. Habakkuk’s basic survival is on the line. And yet his trust in the Lord is so deeply rooted that he can rejoice. Just like the apostle Paul, his eyes are firmly fixed on God, above his circumstances. His hope is not in his surroundings, but in the God who shaped the earth and put breath in his lungs.
This begs the question, where is my hope? Can I look beyond today’s uncertainty and rejoice in the God who holds the entire earth together? Whether today brings laughter, tears, or exhaustion, it makes all the difference to stop and remember whose world we’re in. What is it worth to depend on our own strength or the outlook of our circumstances? God is the one who puts breath in our lungs and sustains us moment by moment. He sees us, He cares, and He holds each situation we face.
Rachel Olson recently moved back to the US after making Africa home for 2 years. She hopes to live there again someday soon, where she enjoyed sharing life with hospital patients, learning (and eating!) new things and seeing God offer hope in life’s hard places. Here in the US, she loves a good street taco, card game or deep conversation with friends and family. She longs to see Jesus at work in all of life’s changes, joys, and struggles, and writing helps her make a little more sense of it all. You can find more from Rachel on her blog and Instagram.
Image Credit: ©Unsplash/alex-radelich
Author: Karly Grant
All of my life I’ve been a worrier. I still remember the prayer that I prayed every night before I went to sleep as a child, “Dear God, thank you for another day. Please help my family to sleep well and to stay safe. Please don’t let there be any fires, earthquakes, or anyone breaking into our house while we sleep. In Jesus name, Amen.”
As I’ve grown up, and grown in my faith, most of my fears have lessened and my prayers have become less rote (although I’m definitely not one to skimp on the “Help me, Jesus!” prayers that I often need). While most of these childish fears only return if I’m in real danger, there is one that has stuck with me from childhood—the fear of failure. God desires for his children to live in freedom, and as he guides me through my current struggles, I am taken back to my childhood where this fear rooted long ago.
I revealed the litany I ran through nightly as a child, but once a year, on New Year’s Eve, I would also ask God not to let Jesus return that year. One of my earliest memories is accepting Christ at four or five years old. While I fully believe that I was saved that day, I didn’t automatically have all the answers and that scared me. I cried to my mom one day when I was about six because I was terrified of Jesus returning. I didn’t have the Bible memorized, and in my mind, I was going to get to Heaven and there would be a test. I was afraid I would fail God. My mom lovingly explained the truth to me, but for many years, I thought God would find I failed, and if I could just postpone a little longer surely I would get there. I still haven’t found perfection, but I have found grace.
God was on his own level but this fear seeped down to my relationships with family as well. There was a time when I was about eight that my family was visiting friends overnight. I woke up the next morning and the lady we were staying with told me that my parents were at the hospital because my mom had been struck with a migraine. This was a semi-common occurrence during this stage of my life, but somehow, being in a different city made it seem different. I, being the oldest of three kids at that time, felt the pressure of telling my sisters and comforting them. What if something happened to my mom? Would I know what to do? I piled unnecessary pressure on myself as a child, and I was afraid I would fail them all as I reached for my self-imposed unrealistic expectations.
Now I fear failing at life in general. I took some huge steps of faith in a direction that I felt God calling me and it looks nothing like what I thought it would. I can’t help but wonder am I failing those who supported me? I am currently unemployed and still living in a place that I am prepared to say goodbye to. My timeline has failed me, and the enemy is quick to step into this area of my life and hiss lies.
Here in the waiting is where God and I are camping. I’ve been fighting against the enemy and speaking truth about who God is and who He says I am, going from fear of failure to confidence that can only be found through God. Scripture and music have been key to remaining saturated in truth. My times of musical worship at home are anything but pretty. I often cry, sing horribly, and pound on the keys of my keyboard. While I may look miserable to an onlooker, these are sweet times with my Savior and some of the strongest points of warfare against our enemy. Michael W. Smith has a song that I’ve been listening to often these days called Surrounded. Some of the lyrics are “This is how I fight my battles… It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You.”
I’ve been doing a Bible study called Psalms for Prayer. While I read these Psalms that I’ve read many times before, they have been hitting me anew.
“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.” -Psalm 145:5
I find that reading scripture out loud and declaring the goodness of God is life-changing. God is so good. I realize in these times that I can be confident in Him. I don’t have to fear failure. He has a plan. He is with me. He never fails.
Karly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year, she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm of adoption. She is both terrified and excited to see how God moves and what opportunities He provides in this adventure.
Author: Sarah Clews
When I think of being hungry or thirsty, my mind goes to one thought, “never satisfied.” It’s annoying really. We have to eat and drink fluids or we die. Somehow, the body is never satisfied. We fill it knowing we will continue to be thirsty.
The Samaritan woman in the Bible felt that frustration of nagging thirst. In John 4 (NIV), Jesus goes to a well, tired and thirsty, and asks the Samaritan woman approaching the well for a drink.
“The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
Jesus is offering the gift of eternal life—the chance to never be thirsty again—the chance to be satisfied!
Hunger and thirst can be a metaphor for the constant striving we call life on Earth. We’re always hungry for something more. Sometimes we look for it in community, hungry for human connection. To find no friend can love us enough to fill the longing in our hearts. Sometimes we look for it in pleasure, hungry for more fun. Yet it’s so dissatisfying. No sooner is the vacation over, then we are longing for the next one. Sometimes we look for it in money, always looking for that higher paying job. This quote by Will Rogers is hauntingly true, “What’s considered enough money? Just a little bit more.”
Community, pleasure, money—none of these are inherently bad. But getting more of them will always leave us empty. They won’t satisfy our souls. When we look for satisfaction in the temporary, we’ll always be disappointed. I must know in my heart that I’ll only find full satisfaction in heaven and in my relationship with the Divine Creator.
“For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”- Psalm 107:9
Being in the presence of Jesus, that’s an amazing thing to look forward to. Satisfaction is out there, but it won’t be found without him! When I draw near to God, my hunger and thirst are sated. He isn’t disappointing. He is forever. His love is perfect. His gifts are good.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”-Psalm 16:11
Sarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown-ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.