An Anchor of Hope

I sat there on the bathroom floor browsing social media on my phone next to the bathtub as my boys splashed around in the bubbles, playing with their tub toys- just a typical day in the life of this stay-at-home mom. Suddenly, my heart sank as I scrolled Facebook and caught the headline, “CDC Confirms first St. Louis Case of Coronavirus.”

COVID-19 had made its way to our home-state of Missouri and suddenly, the anxiety many people around the world had been experiencing for months became very real to me. 

As this virus has spread across the nation, so has much uncertainty and panic as many have been told by government officials to stay shut up in their homes because of the danger of this extremely contagious virus. Many churches have closed their doors since no more than ten people at a time are allowed to gather. Many businesses have been shut down and employees have lost their jobs in the process.

Empty grocery store shelves, massive job loss, social isolation, endangered health, and sadly, even death have been reality for so many people during this time. Suddenly the comfort of abundance and security has been stripped from our society and many are looking for hope right now. 

Some believe that hope can be found in a vaccine or medication for all of this to go away. Although modern medicine is a blessing to our society and could solve the issue at hand, the real concern is that this pandemic is revealing that people are trying to find hope in the wrong source.

This is one of the greatest opportunities as Christians to shine the light of real hope to a fearful and hurting world- the hope of Christ!

Hebrews 6 tell us of this hope:

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters [p]within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Hebrews 6:19, NASB

This verse shares the truth that Jesus Christ has made a way for us to be able to enter into fellowship with a thrice holy God. He lived the perfect life we could not live by fulfilling the law and laid down His own life as a sacrifice for us. Because of this, we are able to have hope no matter what we face in this life. And if that wasn’t good news enough, as our high priest, Jesus is also forever making intercession for us daily (Hebrews 7:25)!

As Christians, we must constantly remind ourselves of this blessed hope when anxiety comes in like a tidal wave and tries to overwhelm our hearts. We must fight the temptation to find our hope in anything else but Christ. Our hope should not be in a vaccine, medication, a booming economy, job security, a full pantry, positive statistics, or the government’s financial support.

Our hope should be built on Christ, our Solid Rock, the anchor of our soul, the only security we have in this life because that security is eternal. Our health and finances may be taken from us. No matter what happens, life in Him can never be taken away from us. For when this is all over, He is the only One who can save us from the curse of sin and death. 

In Him, we are forgiven and justified before a Holy God. In Him, we stand faultless before the throne of judgement that awaits us all one day. The hope of eternity in His presence should be the anchor in the storms of life. The only real hope we can stand upon is eternal life found in Jesus Christ. 

Have you been tempted to allow anxiety and panic to sweep you away during this difficult time?

Are you feeling hopeless because of your current circumstances and looking for relief in the possible solutions presented to us? Take your worries to the Lord today and ask Him to help your unbelief.

Are you spending more time looking at statistics and the news right now?

Instead of reading the newest headlines every day, open up your Bible and fill your heart with hope, not fear. The temptation during times like this is to focus on all the trials around you, especially if you are experiencing uncertainty, lack, or discouragement. Resist that temptation and use it as an opportunity to offer your gratefulness to God: everyday find three things to be thankful for and write them down to remind your soul of God’s goodness.

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Let Not Change Move You

Growing up, I learned very early on that not much in my life would stay consistent and that the pattern of my life would include a lot of change, and sometimes drastic change. From my parents’ divorce to my mom’s remarriage to a man she met on the internet (remember AOL chatrooms?) to the birth of another sibling when I was in middle school to moving homes every two years throughout grade-school and middle school to my father’s constant on and off battle with alcoholism to a sudden complicated break up with my high school boyfriend of two and a half years. It did not take long for a heart of anxiety to be formed in my life because there was not much in my life that I could run to for security. 

So as I got older, I ran to other things, other people. I quickly became ensnared by alcohol abuse and did many dangerous things that only served to create glue-strong attachments to other people — things like an adulterous relationship with a married man and countless one-night stands with random men I followed home from the bar. I was constantly anxious and depressed.

But, after I graduated from college, my eyes were truly opened to my selfish, promiscuous existence and my deep desire to find something firm and secure. I hadn’t been to church for years, but one morning I went. During the worship service, God met me in my mess and convicted my heart. Immediately I knew I needed to stop running away from Him and start running toward Him.

In that moment, I realized He was the security and peace I was searching for. I told Him I didn’t want to live this life on my own anymore and I repented for my rebellion and unbelief. I knew that all I was searching for could only be found in Jesus. I resolved to stand upon the secure foundation of the Rock, Jesus Christ, who never changes. After that moment, my whole world changed as God began transforming my heart. It was by far the best change I have ever experienced!

You may not have experienced difficult and often painful change in your life exactly like I did, but I’m sure you have realized that change is inevitable while we are here on this earth.

Change is just a part of life.

How we handle that change is really where we will discover where our hope and sense of security lies. If change is causing us to worry or stress out, we need not to run to other things or people to try to fix our anxiousness. We will always be disappointed, left feeling empty and even more anxious. We must run to God.

Philippians 4:6 tells us that we must not allow anxiety to overwhelm us, but instead, we are to come to God in prayer and cry out to Him with our requests, full of a thankful heart knowing He hears us.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Philippians 4:6, ESV

Nothing is too small when it comes to our prayers to God; He wants us to come to Him about everything! God not only hears our prayers; He responds with giving us His peace and protection. 

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:7, ESV

God’s peace is like nothing else this world can offer; it is beyond all human logic or reasoning.

He promises to protect our hearts and minds when we dwell on our position in Jesus, as forgiven children of God. He is not only the Creator and sustainer of life, but He is our heavenly Father that longs to protect and provide for us. 

So at the turn of 2020, are you undergoing a lot of change, whether by your own hand or by unforeseen circumstances? Is this change causing you to worry?

Instead of allowing these worries to drive you to other sources in an attempt to bring relief, make a list of these worries and take them to God is prayer today. He hears every request. You can find peace and rest assured that He is the One who never changes. Even if everything around you feels like shifting sand, remember that Jesus Christ is firm and secure.

While you are writing down your requests, listen to the old hymn, My Hope is Built on Nothing Less and reflect upon the One who is the only strong and constant foundation.

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What God Has Taught Me Through the Seasons Where I Felt Stuck

“Hi, my name is Emily, and I am recovering from an addiction to do-ing.”

It took me many years to finally admit that. If there was a goal or task to accomplish, I would throw all of myself into successfully completing it. I still have great work ethic, but the problem was the fact that I was too concerned with what people thought of me based upon my accomplishments. I loved the high from “the hustle” and having my schedule full to the brim. I spent years upon year upon years crowding the margins of my existence with:

Dance class, gymnastics, cheerleading, running track, Student Council, Marching Band, Pep Band, Concert Band, Art Club, Peers Group, musicals & plays (“I can’t. I have rehearsal.”), auditions, performances, church choir practice, tutoring, youth ministry, college and career ministry, worship team rehearsals, Bible studies, prayer meetings, church leadership meetings, drama practices, event planning committees, speaking engagements…

…just to name a few.

Entering a New Season

Being successful and driven became the meaning behind every breath I took; I found purpose in my performance and productivity. This was all I knew for well over 20 years of my life.

Then came the day, four years ago, when my husband and I decided it was best that I leave my job and become a stay-at-home mom. Even though there was always a daily task-list before me:

Laundry, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, vacuuming, mopping, dishes, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, lunch, emails, phone-calls, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, dinner, feeding, burping, diaper-changing…

…I didn’t feel accomplished at all.

Feeling Stuck

I felt robotic.

I felt completely overwhelmed and frazzled, drained and exhausted.

My excellent productivity skills had always proven to be such an asset to my daily routine, but not anymore. I couldn’t focus on the here and now, let alone enjoy it, because I was always looking to the next thing that had to be finished.

What did I even do today? I would ask myself constantly because I never felt like my to-do list was completed. There was always more to do the next day too.

Using this Season of Life

Although I would have told you straight to your face that my identity and purpose was not in what I do, I don’t know if I whole-heartedly believed that. In this new season of my life as a stay-at-home mom, I felt absolutely stuck and quite frankly, like a failure. Surely, God wouldn’t call me to leave my job just to abandon me here, drowning in dirty laundry and a sink full of dirty dishes, feeling like it was piling up all around me. Surely, there had to be more purpose to my life than all of this!

This lack of productivity and accomplishment felt totally foreign to me, but little did I know, God was going to use this new season to teach me some of the greatest lessons of trusting Him even when everything in my life seems to be at a stand-still.

Learning How to Just Be

Within the first few months into this new role as a mom, I finally realized that if I didn’t slow down and carve out alone time with God, I would sink even deeper in this place where I felt utterly stuck. I needed to learn how to just be.

I need to learn how to be present. God didn’t need me to DO anything for Him because Jesus had done so much for me already so that I could simply spend time with the Father- now and forever in eternity.

Why would I rush through this life frantically trying to cross things off my task list for the sake of productivity if I allow it all to steal my peace and joy?

Becoming Intentional

Slowly, I learned how to stop going through the motions just for the sake of accomplishment and became intentional about staying mentally present. I made sure that quiet time spent with the Lord was a top priority. He was the only One who could restore my soul from the stresses of the daily demands of being at stay-at-home mom and wife. I chose to breathe it all in and enjoy every moment with my son and my husband, no matter how big or small it seemed, knowing that it would pass so quickly. It was then that I began to experience genuine peace and joy.

An Issue of Mis-Identification

I thought I was getting the hang of this whole “being” business, until God took it to the next level when He convicted my husband and I’s hearts that we needed to search for a sound, Biblical church (you can read about that initial experience of coming out of deception here), thus, removing whatever titles or ministry roles I still attempted to find my identity in and busy myself with. No more worship team, no more prayer meetings, no more church leadership conference calls, no more preparing messages for the youth group, no more drama team rehearsals.

Once again, I felt stuck. I felt so out of sorts. I felt so void of purpose because I no longer had all of these extra responsibilities to fill my plate. Clearly, I still had this huge issue of mis-identification, asking God why, when, how, wondering what this sense of void really was all about and if it would ever go away. Why couldn’t I find contentment in the waiting, in the process, in the stand-still? Why was it so hard to “just be” and trust God was at work in and through my life even when it looked like nothing was happening?

Yielding to the Hands of the Potter

In this season, God stripped me of all of those wrong labels that I was trying to identify myself with by completely removing me from activities and ministry positions. He even removed certain desires and passions, like my writing, which was starting to pick up speed since my book had just released several months prior to this big life change.

It took me two years to finally yield to the hands of the Potter and give him every label and title I have ever held onto and see Him smash them to smithereens with is mallet, y’all. That’s a long time to wrestle with God, but thankfully, as He always does, He won that match! I finally surrendered it all over to God.

Learning Whose I Am

Sure, there were times that I felt like I had lost myself.

But through the process of losing myself, just like Jesus tells us, I found the life God created for me to live.

“He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”

Matthew 10:39, NKJV

In the season of “barrenness” and stillness, I discovered my true purpose and identity, a daughter of the Most High God.

It’s so incredibly simple, but it is at the core of the gospel—The Father gave His only Son for the whole world so that those who would believe on Him would never spiritually die but have everlasting life, experiencing restored fellowship with their Heavenly Father (John 3:16).

Those who embrace Jesus and put their trust in Him are given the right to be called children of God! There is absolutely NOTHING we can do to earn that position. We can’t work for it. It isn’t based upon our accomplishments or performance; it’s based on Jesus’ performance on the Cross! All that is required of us is faith in Jesus Christ…and we don’t even have to work for that either! God freely gives us that faith as a gift! When we embrace Jesus, the Father embraces us!

Children of God

In Christ, we are God’s children and our purpose is to stand in that identity and tell others the good news that they can have that right, too, through Jesus Christ (John 1:12).

It’s from that place as children of God, in Christ, that we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28a).

Did you catch that: have our BEING, not that we now can have our doing!

Finding Peace and Rest

Although it is so easy to get caught up in fully understanding our individual purpose, I don’t believe what we do while here on this earth is God’s main concern. I believe His main concern for us is that we know whose we are!

You may feel “stuck” right now and feel like you aren’t doing much of anything of value for God, but I am here to tell you that being a child of God is the greatest position you will ever stand in! Today, find peace and rest in believing you have purpose just by being that!

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A Prayer for Stress

I struggled with anxiety and panic attacks for many years in high school and college, even as a believer. Stress and worry were just a part of my life, and I allowed them to move into my mind and become my permanent mental roommates. From money problems to relationship issues, if it became too much, you would find me curled up in a ball in the fetal position on the floor, hyperventilating until parts of my body went numb and crying until there were no more tears left.

After I graduated college, I began to walk closer with the Lord and study His Word like I never had before in my life. My mind was being renewed and over time, I began to trust the Lord with every care and worry and cast them upon Him like 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to do.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

1 Peter 5:7, NIV

The other night when I experienced the panic attack, there was a brief moment where I was given the opportunity to resist the negative thoughts and take them captive and begin to talk to God like I had learned to do so many times before, but this time, I chose to let my mind run in circles. I was so familiar with the experience of a panic attack that I could literally feel it try to overtake me right before it happened. The dark cloud of what I believe was demonic oppression then blanketed my mind and then my whole body. If I would have remembered Philippians 4:6-7 or even 1 Peter 5:7, I would have realized that God offered me a solution to my anxious thoughts. A simple conversation with the Lord would have helped me centered my thoughts and would have brought immediate peace to the whirlwind in my mind.

If this describes your life at all, here is a prayer you can pray for when stress hits hard:

A Prayer for Stress

Lord, thank you that you want us to cast our cares on you. Thank you that there is nowhere I can go that you are not there with me. Thank you for having a hold of my life, even as I feel like everything is crumbling around me.

Lord, I confess that I have let stress take a hold of my life, rather than You. I have let stress control my mood, my attitudes and my actions. Lord, I repent of this! Please Father, help me see what is stressful in my life and hand it over to You. Help me not let the stress win out. Help me actively think on Your goodness to me. 

I am so hopeful for my eternity with you, Lord, where there will be NO more stress! Help me look back on all the ways You have rescued me from my stressful moments, and look in hope to the future where You will one day rid all stress, forever.

Help me live boldly in the truth of Your goodness and power today. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


A Prayer for Stress was originally featured on iBelieve.com.

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