Something occurred to me the other day: Anchors don't prevent ships from getting knocked around by waves.
The first half of Hebrews chapter 6, verse 19, reads:
Stitched into your great aunt's decorative pillows, declared from many a pulpit, typed up in whimsical font over an "inspiring" image - this verse is familiar because it's easy to follow.
Even if you know nothing about sailing, you know that anchors are heavy and meant to keep ships in one place. Hope = an anchor. Anchors = steadiness. Therefore, hope = steadiness. Simple word math, equaling an encouraging sentiment.
But encouraging sentiments are flimsy, and rather ineffective in the midst of struggle.
I recently found myself scrambling for steadiness; I was experiencing things I had no grid for, encountering emotions I couldn't quite articulate, and I felt entirely unsettled. I needed something solid I could actually cling to while the waves were sloshing around and the cargo was knocking and rolling across the ship deck. And I know that God offers us much more than "encouraging sentiments" when He sees us flailing. So I ventured to ask: What is He actually saying in Hebrews 6:19?
Let's break it down like this:
Anchors aren't cushions, or safe havens. They don't keep wind from getting caught up in the sails. They don't hold the ship deck steady, preventing it from rocking this way and that.
What anchors do is ensure that a ship will not aimlessly drift out to sea. They offer the comfort of keeping the ship "grounded" and provide you with the ability to know where you are, even if you're being pushed by winds or pulled by currents. Anchors allow you to orient yourself, regardless of what's going on around your "ship."
I have heard "the soul" defined as the mind, will, and emotions of a person; these are the things that feel most unsettled when our circumstances start to change, and they're the things that feel most difficult to address because they're pretty much intangible. But in this verse, God is saying that we have actually been provided with a grounding point for our heart, a grounding point for our thoughts, a grounding point for our ability to decide.
Our grounding point for all of those things is "this hope" - which begs the question, "What hope?"
If you're a Christian, your hope isn't an encouraging sentiment, or a powerful wish. Your hope is actually a person, with character you can be strengthened to know: Your hope is kind. He doesn't force Himself on people, He doesn't mow over people's feelings in the name of religion... He sees and He values the individual, exactly where they're at.
He is passionate. He initiates, He comes for His people. He does not tolerate injustice, so He willingly gave His only Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice to pay the price of sin... so that He can readily and completely forgive you, every time you ask.
He is always, only, ever, GOOD. Not just in a "the opposite of bad" way, but "good" in a sense of the word that we can't fully grasp here on earth. Good in a wholesome, peaceful, inarguably-wonderful kind of way. He does not lie, He does not manipulate. He is abounding in steadfast love.
We can trust His heart, and we can trust His intentions.
And the hope we have is that, if you have accepted His son Jesus into your heart, He's on your side! It's not hope like "Ah, I really hope this happens." It's hope like: "Look what has happened!!! Therefore, whatever I'm facing actually has to collide with the reality of God's heart for me. And that gives whatever I'm facing some HOPE - even if I don't see change, I know something will, because God's love for me is a fact I can stand upon."
He sees your heart and He is actively defending it, advocating for it, lovingly mindful of it as He walks alongside you.
Part of our hope is knowing that He will not let us down: Romans chapter 8, verse 32 says "He who did not spare His own son, but willingly gave Him up for us - how will He not also, along with Him, give us all things?" If you think God is in the business of withholding from His children, I would encourage you to really meditate on what the sacrifice of His Son must have been like for Him.
God is allows us to ground our feelings, thoughts and willpower, and orient ourselves despite whatever is happening. For He is "…the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews chapter 13, verse 8) and the only true source of hope. And is anchoring.
Mayce Fischer is a Press Service International young writer from the USA currently based in Brisbane, Queensland. Mayce is now taking a rest from writing.