Suffering is not something any of us gets to avoid in life.
There’s no shortcut around it and no way to earn exemption. Our particular journey may hold a grand show of suffering, as the loss of a loved one, or it may be quieter grief, a longing unfulfilled or a hurt that burrows deep into our hearts.
For you who have suffered, or you who will suffer, Elisabeth Elliot has much wisdom to share. She has walked a road of deep suffering, and instead of finding despair along the way, was able to live with great joy, trusting that God was in control and aware of her troubles.
Jim and Elisabeth Elliot were names I grew up hearing in my small town Baptist church’s missions program called G.A.s. I remember hearing the entirety of their story for the first time at G.A. Camp and being so moved by their faith.
Their story includes Jim being killed by the Auca Indians he was seeking to tell about Jesus after just three years of marriage. Their daughter was still an infant. Yet, just a couple of years after Jim’s death, Elisabeth went into the Ecuadorian jungle to live among the people who had speared her husband. She wanted to continue the mission that Jim and the men with him began: to share the gospel. Elisabeth later remarried and lost her second husband to cancer just three years later. She knew suffering well, and before her death she taught on suffering. Today, you can read this never before published teaching in Suffering Is Never for Nothing.
Whether you feel like you’ve had a relatively smooth life or one that has been full of trials, this book will call you to trust God and obey Him, no matter the cost. It will remind you that suffering isn’t pointless, and that it can actually be a gateway to joy.
Here are ten leading quotes from this book:
Suffering is having what you don’t want or wanting what you don’t have. I think that covers everything.
The deepest things that I have learned in my own life have come from the deepest suffering. And out of the deepest waters and the hottest fires have come the deepest things that I know about God.
The gifts of love have been the gifts of suffering. Those two things are inseparable.
We will never understand suffering unless we understand the love of God.
God, through my own troubles and sufferings, has not given me explanations. But He has met me as a person, as an individual, and that’s what we need.
If we learn to know God in the midst of our pain, we come to know Him as one who is not a High Priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He is one who has been over every inch of the road.
We’re not adrift in chaos. We’re held in the everlasting arms.
Faith is not a feeling. Faith is a willed obedience action.
Whatever is in the cup that God is offering to me, whether it be pain and sorrow and suffering and grief along with the many more joys, I’m willing to take it because I trust Him.
I have never thanked God for cancer. I have never thanked God specifically that certain Indians murdered my husband. I don’t think I need to thank God for the cancer or for the murder. But I do need to thank God that in the midst of that very situation the world was still in His hands. The One who keeps all those galaxies wheeling in space is the very hand that holds me. The hands that were wounded in the cross are the same hands that hold the seven stars. The hands that were laid on old John when he was there on the Island of Patmos, and the voice that was like the sound of many waters said to him, don’t be afraid. I AM.
As Elisabeth closed her teaching, she reminded those who were listening of this truth:
I made a list of these amazing paradoxes. These are some of the things that the Scripture tells me God transforms. The wilderness into pasture. Deserts into springs. Perishable into imperishable. Weakness into power. Humiliation into glory. Poverty into riches. Morality into immortality. This vile body into a resplendent body. My mourning into the oil of joy. My spirit of heaviness, He gives me in exchange, a garment of praise. And beauty for ashes. In Revelation 7:16 and 17 (NKJV) we read, “They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
… Suffering is never for nothing.