Sarah Young is on a journey to better understand God's hope and peace. Millions of readers have embarked on that journey with her as they have turned the pages of her bestselling devotional Jesus Calling, which combines first-person messages from God with Sarah's soothing, lilting tone. Sarah is also the author of Jesus Calling for Kids, The Jesus Calling Storybook Bible, and Jesus Today, in which she encourages people of all ages to grasp the God who loves us desperately—even when life doesn't turn out as we want.
Sarah recently opened up to TCW about how God has been present in the midst of her challenges.
Why write as though Jesus is talking to us?
SARAH: I first began writing this way because I wanted to hear what God had to say to me. For many years I'd written in prayer journals, but it was one-way communication. I did all the talking. So I began waiting during my quiet times, pencil and paper in hand, writing whatever I believed God was saying. I felt awkward the first time I tried this, but I received a short message. It addressed three current topics in my life: trust, fear, and closeness to God.
What happened after that first experience?
Soon messages began to flow more freely, and this new way of communicating with God became the highlight of my day. Though I knew these writings weren't inspired as Scripture is, they were helping me grow closer to God. I relied on the Holy Spirit's help, trying to listen to Jesus through the creative process. I tried to be selective in my listening. If anything was unbiblical, I rejected it.
How have those experiences influenced you?
I've learned that hope shines bright in the trenches of adversity. In 2001, two months after moving with my husband to Perth, Australia, to establish an international church, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. Then in 2008, I began to experience vertigo. I eventually learned I have Lyme disease. In 2009, I traveled to the States to undergo 12 weeks of intense IV antibiotic treatment. The medicines made me feel even worse, but I knew this painful process could mean a restoration of my health.
Did restoration come?
It didn't. I faced massive disappointment. In the midst of that discouragement, I realized I needed hope. Not the hope of healing, but hope in Jesus. I needed to trust in his goodness, unfailing love, and constant presence with me. This hope became my light shining in the darkness of disappointment. If I'd been healthier, I wouldn't have learned the depth of hope and faith.
How is your health today?
I'm not significantly better or worse. Recently I learned I'm gluten intolerant, so I've worked hard to live gluten free. I'm hoping this will improve my health in the long run. But the one constant is that hope exists even in the darkest of nights. Even while I struggle with many symptoms, the light of Jesus' hope grows brighter as I focus on him. Hope is a way of seeing—a type of vision that defeats discouragement.
What's important to understand when we don't receive the things we long for?
It's easy to feel deep disappointment when we feel powerless to change things. Though it's uncomfortable, this is actually a good place to be, because it awakens us from the slumber of routine and reminds us God is in charge of our lives. It also presents us with an important choice: we can lash out at our circumstances and ultimately at God, or we can choose to draw close to him. The more we draw near, the more hope we can find in his unfailing love. We can cast all our anxiety on him, knowing he cares and watches over us without ceasing. As we seek him as our resting place, great peace and joy is ours, regardless of external circumstances.
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