This hope we have as an anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whatever pressure bears upon it]—a safe and steadfast hope that enters within the veil.
In Matthew 4, Jesus was led by the spirit into the wilderness, and in three different attempts, the devil attacked Jesus’ faith, sense of security, and identity. Jesus was able to resist the devil because He knew the word of God, He believed in God’s power, and He knew God as Father.
During my spiritual retreat, God brought me to this passage of scripture and provided powerful revelation regarding the year 2022. It was a hopeless twelve-months for me. My year was filled with various kinds of grief, loss, loneliness, dwindling faith, and hopelessness.
Last year, when emotions felt too heavy to bear, I would desire relief from the emotions, and thoughts of suicide was how I coped. I felt ashamed and helpless. I knew God was the answer, but I often didn’t believe it in my heart. Thus, my actions and behaviors resembled giving up completely.
“Hope Restored” was my word for 2022, and I was confused as to why God would set that as my promise for the year when I felt absolutely no restoration of hope, joy, or faith. I was in a real-life wilderness. And then my ears were opened by the Holy Spirit.
In Matthew 4 versus 5, the enemy tells Jesus to throw himself off a high mountain and the angels would save Him. It’s interesting that this verse could imply that Satan wanted Jesus to die by suicide. I am not a bible scholar, so I honestly don’t know. However, when I look past the act and reflect on both Jesus’ story and my own, Satan’s strategy is the same.
One of his strategies was to tempt Jesus into using His power and act independently from God; to control things and to do things His own way. Is that not a part of suicidality - the need to control? Isn’t choosing suicide acting independently from God’s plan? Aren't we disregarding the one who created us by deciding that His creation isn't worth living?
This is what I was doing. I gave into the need to control. I believed the answer for ending this wasteland experience surely is giving up - when I knew that was not God’s plan.
My most repeated question in 2022 was “God, where is my hope?”
As Jesus was being tempted in the wilderness, His response was always scripture: “It is written.” Jesus' weapon was God’s breath and words of truth. Jesus was so anchored and tethered to the Father, the enemy had no chance of success.
At first glance, I would suggest that I did not lean into God’s word last year. Clearly, not enough for the thoughts and emotions to go away. I felt so ashamed, as a Christian and as a counselor, that I couldn’t stop the freight train of lost hope and dire thoughts. And then my eyes were opened by the Holy Spirit.
In reviewing my journal, I noticed that I hadn’t actually given up. I still prayed. I still studied the bible. I was memorizing scripture and declaring truth. I stayed in community. I fasted every month. My spiritual disciplines did not waver. The thoughts, although present, did not win. I am still alive! I am still here.
I am still choosing life because I was anchored.
Jesus was so anchored in God’s word that He did not give into the enemy’s manipulation and temptation. The enemy wanted Jesus to lose His faith, hope, and life; the enemy wanted me to lose my faith, hope, and life. But I didn’t. Even in the midst of feeling like I’ve failed God and myself, the Holy Spirit reminded me that I actually did not lose hope.
To me, being anchored means to be spiritually firm, secure, and unyielding in God’s Word whether in a wonderland or wasteland. I believe in order to be anchored and stay anchored, we must rest, reset, and resist. Jesus was a great example of this.
My encouragement to those who find themselves in a wilderness moment is to...
...find evidence that you are truly winning. Search for evidence that you haven’t given up; that you, despite what you may see or feel, are anchored in Jesus.
For it is written: we have as an anchor of the soul a safe and steadfast hope that keeps us bound to the very presence of God (Hebrews 6:18-19). This year, my hope is restored, I choose to stay anchored, and I am thankful suicide did not win!