Faith and Finding Our Place: An Interview with Author, Sarah Sundin

Today, I am delighted to host one of my favorite authors for an insightful discussion on finding our place in God's plan and filling it faithfully. 

Sarah Sundin is the author of nine historical novels, including When Tides Turn. Her novel Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Award, won the INSPY Award, and was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school. She also enjoys speaking for church, community, and writers’ groups. Please visit her at

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I’ve noticed that your novels often feature characters that are struggling to discover and fulfill their roles in life—specifically in the war effort. For example, Tess joins the WAVES in When Tides Turn, Mary realizes she can use her job at the Navy Yard to investigate sabotage. As Christians, we face a parallel journey in seeking God’s will for our lives and our place in His plan. 

In chaotic and distracting times, how do we stay focused on the bigger picture of what we can do for His kingdom and fulfilling the roles we are meant to fulfill? 

For me, the key is understanding His long-range purpose in my life. Since my main spiritual gift is teaching, this is how He generally uses me. Teaching is where my passion is and where my strengths lie. For the past decade or so, I’ve been involved with teaching Sunday school and women’s Bible studies, and in writing and speaking. This knowledge of His main purpose for me didn’t come in some mighty revelation, but through trial-and-error (MOPS crafts committee—failure!), through listening to the voices of Christian women I respected, and through seeking God’s will in prayer.

Armed with that knowledge, I can more easily focus on the roles I’m meant to fulfill and to filter out those roles that are actually meant for someone else. And without guilt!

This does not exclude me from temporary “assignments” outside of my main purpose and gifts. Sometimes God likes to stretch me. Ouch. Sometimes He wants me to act outside of my strengths to teach me humility. And sometimes I’m just at the right place at the right time. We all need to watch for those Holy Spirit nudges.

Your protagonists—such as Lilian in Anchor in the Storm—often face adversity that threatens to impede their progress and divert them away from the path to becoming the people they are meant to be. 

This leads me to consider the types of adversity that prevent us from finding our purpose and doing our duty. How do we learn to protect ourselves from these influences?

Outside adversity can come from opposition—sometimes even from family and friends. When that happens to me, I have to step back and pray. We both can’t be hearing messages from God that conflict. That means one of us—or both—is listening to self. If it’s me, I want to know now, so I can stop! If it’s my loved one, I need to persist in doing God’s will, sweetly deal with my loved one, and pray for God to work on their hearts.

In my life, the greatest obstacles have usually been internal—discouragement, rejection, lack of
confidence, etc. Those I have to work through with God’s help. If the Lord wants me to do something, I must do it and must not listen to the negative thoughts in my head.

Some adversity simply can’t be eliminated—chronic illness, family issues, financial pressures. If you’re facing one of these situations, give yourself grace—the Lord certainly does! Do as much as you can in this season and do NOT beat yourself up for not doing more.

Some of your characters, like Tess and Dan, discover what their roles are supposed to be, but have to come to terms with the fact that these roles don’t involve the kinds of duties they once thought were important. This is an issue many believers face. Sometimes we think we should be career missionaries or pastors of large congregations to serve God, when He is really calling each of us down our own unique paths to serve Him. Sometimes we find ourselves in a place or position different than the one we planned. 

What are some ways we can learn to make peace and find joy in playing a part we once thought was unimportant or that we didn’t expect to play?

Funny, I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. The saying “Bloom where you’re planted” is cliché but true. If it’s absolutely clear that you’re meant to stay where you are, despite your dreams—and they may be very godly dreams—you have to decide to make the most of it. Sometimes this assignment may turn out to be temporary, and you’ll go on to better things and look back at this time as essential to your growth. Other times you may find out this is indeed your better thing. Either way, know that God has you there for a reason. That reason may be as unpleasant as developing humility, patience, courage, or mercy. So be it. Embrace it.

Not long ago, I was drawn into a rather thankless service task that was a drain of time when I had little to spare. Every time I tried to bow out, I was sucked back in. God made it very apparent that He wanted me there. It lasted seven years—hmm, there’s a biblical number for you. And it ended the SAME month my first novel released—not a coincidence. During those seven years, God was drawing me into several leadership roles and preparing me to be a published author. And during those seven years, He also made me a servant. He showed me the ugliness of my pride and showed me what servant leadership should look like. As much as I disliked it, I wouldn’t change it for a thing.

Many of my readers are also writers or engage in other creative activities. Could you provide some good advice for keeping God and faith at the center of our creative efforts?

It begins and ends with relationship. If my walk with the Lord, centered on Bible study and prayer, is strong, then He permeates everything I do. When I’m “too busy” for Him (Seriously? Why do I get deceived by that one again and again?), I find my creativity falters. This is a lesson I’m continually learning.

I’m pleased and honored you agreed to participate in this discussion. In closing, is there anything that I and my readers can pray for you about?

Thank you for having me, Chloe! Please pray that I’ll listen to the right voices in my life, and that I’ll continue to grow in my relationship with the Lord.

By the way, so many of the concepts I’ve addressed today are powerfully addressed in Jocelyn Green’s new book, Free to Lean: Making Peace with Your Lopsided Life. It’s all about leaning into your purpose and focusing on the tasks He gives you. And how to say no. That’s vital!

If you have never read Sarah's novels, I highly recommend them. They are full of rich, historical detail, relatable characters, and profound lessons for your faith walk. Once you read one, you will want to read them all. Trust me.