Tag Archives: acceptance

Suffering is Never for Nothing (a new book by Elisabeth Elliot)

For many years, Elisabeth Elliot had a daily radio broadcast called, “Gateway to Joy.” A gateway to joy sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But this short title came from a statement that Elisabeth often made: “The cross is the gateway to joy.”

Wait. A cross?

That isn’t the gateway to joy that we were looking for! But I guess that explains why we have been searching without finding because the Cross truly is the gateway to joy.

Although Elisabeth Elliot passed away in 2015, a new book by Elisabeth was published this year by B&H Publishing. Entitled Suffering is Never for Nothing, this book is the transcription of a series of talks which Elisabeth presented many years ago at a small conference. Focused on the topic of suffering, the six messages which she shared that weekend are now the six chapters of this new book.

Foreword

I was eager to read this section because it is written by Joni Tada, whom I appreciate immensely. Joni relates that when she was a young woman, she asked Elisabeth Elliot to preview a book which Joni was writing in which she listed 35 biblical reasons for suffering. When Elisabeth told Joni that her explanations were “a bit technical,” Joni says that she felt crushed (viii). However, after Joni experienced even more suffering in her own life, she came to appreciate Elisabeth’s perspective.

I think the truth that these two God-fearing women insist upon is this: there is a mystery to God-ordained suffering that must remain a mystery on this side of heaven. Job never knew why he suffered as he did; but he learned to be at peace, confident that he could trust God.

Chapter 1: “The Terrible Truth”

The terrible truth is that there is suffering. Suffering is our current reality.

The question remains, is God paying attention? If so, why doesn’t He do something? I say He has, He did, He is doing something, and He will do something. (13)

The deepest things that I have learned in my own life have come from the deepest suffering. (9)

The subject can only be approached by the cross. … The very worst thing that ever happened in human history turns out to be the very best thing because it … saves the world. (13)

Chapter 2: “The Message”

The message is this: God is with us, and we can trust His character. We don’t need to understand when we can trust (77). When we suffer, we can trust the One who has suffered for us.

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. (23)

For myself, I have found great comfort in knowing that there is an answer to our suffering even though I do not now know what it is. It gives me peace to know that there is an answer that is sufficient and satisfying to the One who is all-wise, all-powerful, and all-loving. I rest in that!

Elisabeth emphasizes that her faith would have disintegrated” if she had demanded “a particular kind of answer” from God concerning her suffering. Instead, her faith was “founded on the character of God Himself” (26). In other words, we interpret our circumstances according to God’s love, not the other way around. We do not know why we suffer, but we do know that God’s love is lavish, unfailing, and absolutely trustworthy.

Chapter 3: “Acceptance”

Elisabeth stresses that acceptance is “the key to peace in … suffering” (40). We can accept whatever God brings because we are confident of His love. Right now, our job is to trust and obey; later on, it will be our forever joy to understand (John 13:7).

Here is one of my favorite statements in the whole book:

The love of God … is a willed and inexorable [unstoppable and relentless] 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. (41)

I love that! When we know that God is actively loving us into our maxxed-out joy, we can accept suffering (which we do not understand) because of God’s goodness (which we trust). (Read more about the goodness of God HERE.)

The will of God is love. And love suffers. … Love is always inextricably bound with sacrifice. (41)

 We are not adrift in chaos. We’re held in the everlasting arms. (44).

Chapter 4: “Gratitude”

The next step, after accepting God’s will, is to express gratitude. Elisabeth says that gratitude is a shortcut to knowing God. Gratitude reminds us that we “are not adrift in a sea of chaos” (67).

So, what is there to be grateful for in the midst of suffering? Well, God is still love. … God is still God. … Before the foundation of the world, He knew [about this situation]. So He wasn’t taken by surprise. Love still wills my joy. (67)

Gratitude is important because it honors God and because it prepares the way for God to show His salvation (Psalm 50:23).  Expressing gratitude to God helps us to enter the Presence of God (Psalm 100).

It is in these very situations which are so painful … that thanksgiving can prepare the way for God to show us His salvation. (74)

Certainly, that is true! Treasure the Lord in places of darkness, and treasures of the Lord will be revealed to you (Isaiah 45:3).

Elisabeth shares her “amazement and delight” in learning that the Hebrew word for burden “is the same word as the word for gift” (72).  She says, “If I thank God for this very thing which is killing me, I can begin dimly and faintly to see it as a gift” (73).

Chapter 5: “Offering”

Realizing that a burden is also being a gift leads well into this fifth chapter, which is the meatiest of all, I think. There are three main points:

1. Everything we have is given to us as a gift.

gift

Elisabeth says:

Everything in my life I begin to see as a gift, and I do mean everything.… even my widowhood. I began very slowly to recognize … that it was within the context of widowhood that God wanted me to glorify Him. … It was something that God not only allowed, but in a very real sense, He had given me because He had something else in mind. And this was a gift not just for me, but also for the life of the world…. (76-77)

2. Everything we have is something to offer back to God as a sacrifice. All that we have can be offered up to God “for the life of the world” (82). Everything “is potential material for sacrifice” (84).

I appreciate the fact that Elisabeth includes her painful feelings and her negative emotions in this “everything” which is material for sacrifice. For example, Elisabeth was often asked how she handled loneliness in her life. She always explained that she could not handle loneliness—or discouragement, or despair. But she could offer it as a sacrifice to the Lord. Her loneliness became an offering to the One who could handle it (84).

3. Our greatest offering is obedience (77). The “highest form of worship is obedience” (86).

Here is a great truth: “there is no consolation like obedience” (87). We forget that, don’t we? Yet how much comfort we could gain if we believed this!

Through our obedience in the midst of our suffering, we become like “broken bread and poured out wine for the life of the world” (87). That gives our lives rich meaning and high purpose, does it not?

Our lives are evaluated not by how much we accumulate or accomplish but rather by how much we give. The most important measure of our lives is what we sacrifice through our offerings of love and obedience. As Elisabeth concludes this section on offerings, she shares this quote by Ugo Bassi: “Measure your life by loss and not by gain, not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured out. For love’s strength standeth in love’s sacrifice …” (89).

Chapter 6: “Transfiguration”

Elisabeth discusses the principle of transfiguration, the perspective of transfiguration, and the paradoxes of transfiguration.

If we receive the things that God wants to give us, if we thank Him for them and if we make those things an offering  back to God, then this is what’s going to happen—transfiguration. (93)

As we pour ourselves out for others, we find that we ourselves are strengthened (Isaiah 58). Elisabeth calls this the principle of transfiguration. As Proverbs 11:25 says, “He who waters will himself be watered.”

Life comes out of death, just as a seed must be buried in the ground in order to bring a great harvest.

Our perspective is transfigured through suffering. As we endure, we begin to see “Him who is unseen” (Hebrews 11:27). We begin to understand that our suffering is achieving true glory.

All of this, of course, involves profound paradox. God is a transforming God. He turns deserts in springs, ashes into beauty, mourning into joy, and humiliation into glory (104).

We are privileged to offer to God all that we are and all that we have and all that we suffer. God then transforms this sacrifice “for the life of the world”; and He transfigures us into men and women of joy.

There is … no redemptive work done anywhere without suffering. (104)

Suffering is never for nothing.

The Glory of Femininity

What is true femininity? How can it strengthen our marriages?

Recently, I offered my salute to masculinity. Today I would like to honor femininity.

Every woman has a great strength to bring to her marriage: the “superpower” of femininity. femininityBy femininity, I do not mean pink, ruffles, or lace.

It is the great strength of femininity to offer warm welcome and deep acceptance.

{Click HERE to read more.}

As women embrace godly femininity, they regain not only a forgotten strength but also a God-revealing glory.

Blessings to you,
Tami
MannaforMarriage_final

Encouraging Your Husband Spiritually

How can you encourage spiritual growth in your husband?

You could try leaving ID-10081339tracts on your husband’s pillow, reading Scripture loudly when he walks by, or keeping yourself busy by attending lots of church functions. You could, … but please don’t! It won’t work, and both of you will be miserable! Fortunately, God has given some trustworthy directives that won’t backfire. We can use the acronym RAPID to list several ways in which you can bless your husband, whether he is a believer or not.

Respect your husband. You may not respect everything that he does, but you can always respect the man God created him to be because he is an immortal spirit made in the image of God Almighty. Be continually aware that your husband is created for greatness and honor. He is designed for strength and success. Stay in awe of that.

Maintain a “zero-tolerance policy” against critical or demeaning thoughts of your husband in your own mind and spirit. Rehearse to yourself the truth of his great value. See his failings as brokenness and spiritual captivity, not as personal attacks that threaten your spiritual well-being.

Accept him. Accept him for who he is at his core.  Keep a warm “welcome” in your spirit to your man. When you communicate to him, “I accept you, and I desire you,” then your holiness becomes beautiful to him and can attract him to God.

Pray. Pray for yourself, and pray for your husband. Pray for insight into your husband’s needs and for wisdom on how best to minister to those needs. Pray for God to show you how to respect your husband in ways that are meaningful to him. Pray for God’s work in your husband’s heart–not that your life will be more pleasant, but that his life will be more blessed.

Invite your husband. God has designed wives to be like fragrance, inviting their husbands into holiness. We are called by God to be magnets that draw our husbands to God; we are not called to be whips that drive our husbands to God.

Your faith will be inviting to your husband when it makes you inviting–that is, joyful, pleasant, and cooperative. A woman who is critical and unhappy does not make her God appealing.

ID-10034285Determine to enjoy him. Make it a matter of your will, not your feelings. Insist upon enjoying him. “Relish life with the spouse you love each and every day …” (Eccl. 9:9, MSG). Focus on strengthening your friendship with him.

Become a 1 Peter 3 woman. God will give you a resting, calm spirit as you trust Him. Draw your strength and encouragement from Scripture, from prayer, and from godly girlfriends who will encourage your marriage commitment.

Be assured that God wants you right where you are to serve Him in a very powerful and significant way. God will be faithful to meet your needs so that you are then able to minister to your husband.

May God bless you in special ways as you serve Him in your marriage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A “Word for Your Marriage”

“Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7, RSV).

The apostle Paul gave this instruction to all believers in Christ. But Dietrich Bonhoeffer pointed out that these words also create an excellent guideline for husbands and wives to apply specifically in their marriages.  While imprisoned by the Nazis during World War II, Bonhoeffer wrote a letter to his niece, who was engaged to be married. In “A Wedding Sermon from a Prison Cell,” Bonhoeffer gives this counsel:

Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your heart. … From the first day of your wedding till the last, the rule must be: ‘Welcome one another… for the glory of God’ ….That is God’s word for your marriage.

What a great application! The Greek word used in Romans 15:7 is proslambano, translated as “welcome” in the RSV, and as “accept” in the NIV. Proslambano means “to take to one’s self; to take as one’s companion; to take or receive into one’s home, with the collateral idea of kindness; to receive, i.e. grant one access to one’s heart.” (www.blueletterbible.org)

Certainly, proslambano is something to offer to our spouses–especially to them! Continually, we can be welcoming to our spouses as we receive their presence with warmth and with gladness. We can receive them with kindness and grant them access to our hearts. Instead of sensing rejection or mere tolerance, our spouses can live “welcomed” by our spirits.

As our spouses interact with us, what do they encounter?

Padlock.