BOOK REVIEW: FREE TO THRIVE — How Your Hurts, Struggles, and Deepest Longings Can Lead to a Fulfilling Life 

by Josh McDowell and Ben Bennett (Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2021)

The authors, well-known author and apologist Josh McDowell, and pastor and speaker Ben Bennett have joined forces to examine why so many Christians struggle through life rather than thrive as children of God. Due to their own experiences and their years of ministry, they believe most believers are suffering due to unmet needs in their lives.

McDowell and Bennett make the case that God has designed all people with seven basic needs:

  1. Acceptance — to be included and approved of, as you are, no matter what.
  2. Appreciation — the longing to be thanked and encouraged for something we have done.
  3. Affection — the longing to be cared for with touch and genuine emotional engagement.
  4. Access — the longing to have the consistent emotional and physical presence of key persons.
  5. Attention — the longing to be known and understood by someone who enters into your world.
  6. Affirmation of feelings — the longing to have our feelings validated and confirmed by others.
  7. Assurance of safety — we need to feel protected and provided for emotionally, physically, and financially.

The authors contend that hurting Christians with unfulfilled longings suffer because they try to satisfy those longings themselves or with other earthly things or people. But God placed those longings in us so that we might always go to Him with our needs.

McDowell and Bennett are unusually open and honest in sharing their own unmet longings and the adverse effects those had in their personal lives and ministries. Writing as fellow strugglers, they encourage readers to understand that they are not unusual in trying to satisfy their longings without God and give practical steps to begin looking to God for help and comfort. The book concludes with helpful appendices of the Longings Table and websites and books for further ongoing support. I heartily recommend this book.

How Do I Know that God Will Help Me When I’m in Trouble?

In our heads, we know He is supposed to, but in our hearts, we might lay awake at night and tremble in fear. This article reminds us not to be afraid that God will forsake us in our times of need. Here is a takeaway for me: “We tend to live by faith in visible things. Like with our idols (money, skills, other people, etc.) we want to trust in a salvation we can see. However, the promise that God is always watching over us is invisible. I cannot see the Lord’s protection and help, but that does not mean that it is not there.” From One Degree to Another………………..

How Should Christians Face an Anxiety Disorder? Some Counter-Intuitive Advice

Here is the main takeaway for me from this article: “God is using (and will use) your anxiety disorder to teach you amazing things about your own weakness, your quivering need for him at every moment, and the powerful life that you can receive when you’re bowed in submission to him. Your anxiety disorder, in other words, serves a critical spiritual purpose.” From Pierce Taylor Hibbs……………….

How Should Christians Face an Anxiety Disorder? Counter Intuitive Advice

NEW TROUBLES ARE MET WITH NEW MERCIES

When I read this first this first paragraph, “I don’t know about you, but when I read, ‘Don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own’ (Matthew 6:34 CSB), I think, ‘Well, that’s exactly what I was worried about with tomorrow!’,” I knew I needed to read the rest! From Core Christianity………………….

New Troubles Are Met With New Mercies

How to Pray into the Peace that Passes Understanding

From writer and blogger extraordinaire Ann Voskamp comes this great article from guest writer Linda Evans Shepard. Shepard shares some wisdom she acquired through physical and emotional battle that prayers of trust in God, rather than prayers of despair or desperation, are the channel through which God pours out His peace and comfort to us……………..