Perhaps you are in a place of suffering right now, asking God “why?”. Maybe you are in a sweet place currently, but you remember being in past crises that caused you to try to figure out the “why?” of the situation. All of us will probably face another “why?” moment, or many of them, before we take our last breath.
I haven’t even finished Elisabeth Elliot’s book published after her death, Suffering is Never for Nothing. But I want to encourage you to read it!
Elisabeth clearly explains in chapter 3, her choice to believe God and accept suffering as a part of following Christ. To be honest, I have sometimes thought something was wrong with me that I believe God in the midst of crisis. I may cry, question, even scream, and see no way for this situation to be resolved…but for some reason, I always eventually come to the place of…”ok, this is happening, but I refuse to let it take me under.” That gives the devil pleasure and I can’t stand the thought of that! I’ve seen God work miracles in hopeless situations many times in my life, so I remember those experiences and stand on the truth of Who He is.
Elisabeth makes me feel a bit more understood! She said, “Every time things have seemingly fallen apart in my life, I have gone back to those things that do not change. Nothing in the universe can ever change those facts. He loves me and I am not at the mercy of chance.”
What a sweet reminder in the book of Romans that what God allows, He uses for my good, and His glory, as He conforms me to the image of Christ. Here is that familiar passage:
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)
I was drawn to the statement she made about emotions: “The love of God is not a sentiment. It is a willed and inexorable love that will command nothing less than the very best for us. The love of God wills our joy. I think of the love of God as being synonymous with the will of God….Faith is not a feeling. Faith is a willed obedience action.”
I was encouraged by Elisabeth’s reminder that when God answered Job, He didn’t answer a single one of Job’s questions. His response, she says, “is mystery. In other words, God answers Job’s mystery with the mystery of Himself.” We don’t have to know all the whys…although I think it’s healthy to ask, be honest with God, and pour out your heart to Him in crisis (just as we see David did throughout the Psalms), but then “accept” that He knew about it, allowed it, and He will use it. And though we may not understand the suffering, we can find peace in the midst of it.
I’ve never forgotten this comment I read on a flip over calendar I had years ago: “In the middle of a storm, God will either calm your storm, or allow it to rage while He calms you.” I’ve experienced the calm in the storm…I can’t explain it, but I am SO grateful for it.
Maybe you feel like you are drowning in your current crisis. Will you choose to trust the truth of Christ in the midst of it? He will be faithful even in the answers that are not what we prayed for?
I fully agree with Elisabeth…the greatest lessons in my spiritual journey have come through suffering! Not sure I am glad about this method, but I would never trade what I’ve learned about the faithfulness of our Lord.
I’m only half way through this book, so you may see another post on this subject! Get Suffering if Never for Nothing. You will be blessed and you will devour it!
P.S. By the way…Kaye Hurta writes a very practical blog series here. Check out other articles in the “hurting women” category.