Archive for the ‘Elisabeth Elliot’ Category


Elisabeth Elliot described suffering as wanting what you don’t have and having what you don’t want.

When that happens (and it will if it hasn’t yet), there are two possible responses. Only two. We can say with Job, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Or we can say with Job’s wife, “Curse God and die” (Job 2:9).

One response is based on submission and obedience to God. The other response is based on rebellion and disobedience to Him. Job sums up his response to suffering in 2:10 as he answers his wife. He says, in part, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” 

The only reasonable and faithful response to suffering is to trust the God who is there, sovereign, loving, just, and the One who knows exactly what He’s doing. The alternative is too horrific to consider.


Read Full Post »


In a book titled “Embracing Obscurity,” the unnamed author (which is appropriate for a book about obscurity) quotes Elisabeth Elliot on the subject of suffering. She says suffering is

Having what you don’t want, or wanting what you don’t have. (A Path Through Suffering, p. 56)

There are some things I have that I don’t want. I want some things that I don’t have. I know, without a doubt, that you do, too. In God’s sovereignty and love, He’s given us precisely what we need, but there are times when it conflicts with our own wants and desires. That causes tension and turmoil in our souls for a simple reason – we’re far too focused on ourselves.

After quoting Elliot, the anonymous author then says

This is the perfect definition of suffering for our discussion about embracing obscurity because it’s in the little “sufferings” of demotions, hard breaks, layoffs, out-of-state moves, and menial jobs that we learn to defer to God our dreams of being well-known, respected, and admired. It’s in these trenches that we realize God is big and we are small, where we exchange our will – our dreams, desires, and plans – for the opportunity to make much of Him and less of ourselves.

God calls us to trust Him, whether our suffering is large or small. He knows what He’s doing.

Read Full Post »


Undoubtedly, one of the most important things we can do for fellow Christians is to pray for them. That’s true of pastors and elders – pray for those under your spiritual care. It’s true of parents – pray for your children. It’s true of grandparents – pray for your grandchildren. It’s true of every congregation – pray for your pastors and elders. It’s true of all of us – pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ!

Here’s what the apostle Paul wrote: “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:19-20).

The “this” Paul referred to was his house arrest in Rome at the time he wrote this letter to the church in Philippi. His circumstances could have been worse, but they were still bad – he could have been in one of the many Roman prisons. Paul’s circumstances caused  anxiety among the Christians in Philippi. They were worried about him and about the spread of the gospel. As a result, they prayed for Paul, for which he was profoundly grateful. We know, too, that he prayed for them. When we pray for one another, we go before God’s throne of grace in intercession – pleading for them and asking that God’s will be done and that He be glorified.

Let me give you some ideas of what we can pray for each other:

  • That they would grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).
  • That they would glorify God in all things (1 Cor. 10:31).
  • That they would be transformed by the renewing of their minds (Rom. 12:2).
  • That the fruit of the Spirit would be developed and displayed in their life (Gal. 5:22-23).
  • That they would love God and others with all they have and all they are (Matt. 22:36-40; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:28).
  • That they would give cheerfully and generously (2 Cor. 9:6-7).
  • That they would walk in a manner worthy of the Lord (Col. 1:10).
  • That they would delight in the Word of God (Ps. 1:2).
  • That they would fix their eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2).
  • That they would trust God with everything in their life (Prov. 3:5-6).
  • That they would have the boldness to preach the Word of God with boldness and confidence (Acts 4:29).

This is only a small list, but it’s a good place to start. You’d love it if someone were to pray these things on your behalf, so do it for others!

Read Full Post »



Many of us ask that question, especially when we’re suffering. We want to know why something has happened (or hasn’t happened). We yearn to discover the reason God ordained – caused or allowed – something.
We want to know why.

It’s a good and honest question, but it’s unwise to spend too much time dwelling on it. Why? Because God doesn’t always give us the answer to that question. In fact, He rarely does.

Elisabeth Elliot’s husband Jim was murdered by the Auca Indians along with four other missionaries in the early 1950’s. Left with a young daughter to raise by herself, Elisabeth asked God why. After searching the Scriptures, she came up with five “answers.”

God reveals His glory through suffering and trials. “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13).

Suffering and trials produce positive qualities in our life. Romans 5:3-4 says, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Suffering and trials drive us to fully depend upon God. “But he (God) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

In the life of a Christian, suffering and trials confirm that we actually belong to the Lord. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).

The church is benefited by the trials and sufferings of its members. Colossians 1:24 says, “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I will fill up in my flesh what is lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.”

In addition to Elliot’s findings, let me add one more: trials and suffering are part of God’s eternal plan and purpose. “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,” according to Ephesians 1:11.

All of these passages give us general “answers” to the “why?” question. None of them, however, provide us with a specific answer. We can take comfort, however, in knowing that God has a plan, is in control, and is using it for His purposes.

When we face difficult things (and we all will!), the most important question to ask is not “why?” but “what?” We should ask what we should be doing, thinking, and saying next. We should also be asking what would glorify God in our situation rather than camping on the “why” of the situation.

Elisabeth Elliot had a proper perspective and we can too by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Read Full Post »

My wife and I just got through reading, “Through Gates of Splendor,” by Elisabeth Elliot. She tells the story of her young husband Jim and his four fellow-missionaries (Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian) and their attempt to reach the Aucas with the gospel of Christ. On January 8th, 1956, they were speared to death by the people they hoped to reach. As a result, their story has become known worldwide. It’s embarassing for me to admit that I’d never read the book (or any other about it), which is a shame.

You need to read this book! It’s inspiring, encouraging and motivating. You can order it here or here. Elliot paints a tremendous picture of God’s providence and provision. Tolle Lege!

Read Full Post »