Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington
Surviving or Thriving

Are You Surviving or Thriving?                    

 

Anyone besides me feel frustrated at the apparent success of those who do evil in a world that frowns on a biblical worldview? There are times when I feel like crying out to God along with the psalmist who said in Psalm 94:3, “How long, Lord, shall the wicked triumph?”

Some days zip by, leaving a flurry of good memories. Other days find me crawling through the day, relieved when I finally lay my head on my pillow after treading water in what feels like an ocean of needs and problems.

I want to thrive, but some days surviving is a more accurate description of my life.

What does living a thriving, abundant life look like? And why do we often appear to default to survival mode instead?

 

Surviving

Survival mode is often marked by worry and anxiety. But Jesus had a lot to say about these traps. Many of us are familiar with Jesus’s teaching recorded in what we call the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 6:25-34 can be summed up in two words: don’t worry. Don’t worry about physical needs such as food or clothing. God will provide.

Easier said than done. Because, let’s face it, we do tend to worry. Perhaps not so much when supplies are readily at our fingertips. But when the bank balance is low, or the pantry is empty, or the diagnosis is disappointing, worry creeps in.

  • How will we manage?
  • Where will the provisions come from?
  • How will I navigate this diagnosis?
  • God is in control, but will His control improve my individual circumstances today?

Of course, the reverse is also true. It’s much easier to thrive when our needs are not only met, but met with abundance.

 

Thriving

There’s just something about that word: abundance.

The word abundance and related words such as abundant or abundantly appear more than 60 times in the Bible. Our heavenly Father delights in responding to His children with generous abundance.

From the innumerable stars in the universe to the countless grains of sand on the earth, God is never stingy. From salvation for all who believe (“For God so loved the world”) to the extravagant gifts of the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control), consider how Jesus abundantly provides for His followers.

Even during Jesus’s earthly ministry, in meeting the needs of the hungry thousands who followed Him, He didn’t provide just enough food; He provided more than enough food. Whether it was in feeding the four thousand in Matthew 15 or feeding the five thousand in Luke 9, everyone in both crowds were filled to satisfaction, with leftovers besides.

 

In John 10:10, Jesus said He came to give life to the full, literally abundantly. And in Philippians 4:19, the apostle Paul wrote that God supplies all our needs. So why do we so often experience a disconnect between abundant living and a scarcity mindset? Why do we live as if we need to protect what we have rather than live generously?

Maybe it’s because we confuse God’s promise to meet all our needs with our desire for Him to grant all our wants. I confess to blurring the line between the two more often than I’d like to admit. But from God’s perspective, my need is not the elimination of problems as much as it is to come through the trial with strengthened faith in my heavenly Father. To do that, my focus needs to shift from the difficult situation to the journey of faith laid before me.

I’m learning the difference between surviving and thriving isn’t found in my circumstances. It’s found in my perspective.

Where is your perspective leading you?

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