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  • Writer's pictureShannon Makujina

Broken Cisterns, Living Hope

Updated: 6 days ago

“Your presence and approval is all I need for lasting joy.” This is the second part of J.D. Greear’s Gospel Prayer, from the book Gospel.

That statement is something I’ve been wrestling with and slowly coming to terms with.


What does it look like to believe that whatever Jesus has is enough for me to find joy in, regardless of my circumstances? This has been sitting with me so hard recently.

If the hope in the Gospel is not real, I have nothing.


Just nothing.

I know that what I have in myself is completely rotten. And the past few years have taught me that no one can really be trusted, even the people I thought I knew the best.

So if I don’t have hope in me, and I don’t have hope in other people, that leaves me with the Gospel. That I’m not good enough and Jesus was good–even perfect–in my place.

I can have faith in the Gospel because I know I don’t have anything else worthy of my confidence. But if my only hope is what Jesus promises, then why do I spend my days chasing down empty things that offer temporary fulfillment?

If I have nothing else besides Jesus, then why am I still trying everything else?

It’s a big question, one I wrestle with daily. And here’s the answer.

I keep trying everything else besides Jesus, because even though I see him as my hope for the future, I don’t always see Him as my hope for right now.

Maybe you can identify. Careers, relationships, family, and hobbies are all preoccupying. Sadly, most of us make more time for any one of these categories on a daily basis than we do for Jesus. And so when life hits, we run to a best friend who can’t come through, or a job that just fills the inner emptiness with noise.

God speaks through Jeremiah and says, “My people have committed a double evil; they have abandoned me, the fountain of living water, and dug cisterns for themselves–cracked cisterns that cannot hold water.”

Doesn’t this perfectly describe what we–what I–do every day? We spend our days running from one polluted fountain to another, filling up broken containers with putrid water that leaks out and leaves us stained. And then we go and do it again. And again.

If I trust Jesus to give me life after death, why do I struggle so much to believe that he can give me an abundant life today? I am not suggesting an abundant life in terms of material blessings–rather, do I believe this hope I have in the Gospel is enough to satisfy me right now? Enough for me to stop chasing everything else and rest in it?

If it is the only hope I have for death, it is the only hope I have for life.

I’ve been pondering the words of David. “In Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11 CSB)

Fullness of joy. Pleasure. Are those words we typically associate with the Gospel? With Jesus? If you are like me, the answer is not often enough.

Do we really believe that God’s presence and approval all all we need for lasting joy? It’s a radical concept, not something to be left in the church pew and brushed off each week.

It makes me question; if I really believed this, how would it change me? How would it change the people around me to see that joy and hope spilling out of my life? If I know that I have nothing else, then I should live like He is everything.

Beloved, may our desperation make us run to Jesus, because there is nothing else, but may we also run to Him freely, because there is nothing better.

May we lay down our broken cisterns and bring our empty hearts to Jesus, whose presence can fill us with joy. Instead of placing our hope in things that are crumbling, may we put it in the unchanging promises of our Savior, who promises a hope for the future–and for now.

There is nothing else.

Dedicated to Ava.

These words only came out of my heart

because you spoke them into my life,

so relentlessly, for so long.

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