When Trials Come by Keith & Kristyn Getty
Another gem from The Vally of Vision, and I happened to find a recording of it on Youtube. Feel free to listen to this deep prayer and let it speak to your soul this morning.
One of my favorite lines…
Grant me to know that I truly live only when I live to thee.
Some quiet words of encouragement from the book of Psalms. Click each picture to read the full Psalm.
I’m not big on idolizing human beings (as none of us should be, I think we can all agree). Really, I probably overreact to my pre-Christ culture, which included the secular obsession with the rich and famous, as well as Catholic saints (for the record, I love Catholics and had a great experience growing up Catholic, but I reject the practice of idolizing saints). However, I have learned in recent years the balance of appreciating people who have spent their lives well for the Kingdom, leaving an eternal legacy that far outweighs any earthly one. I don’t want to teach my children someday that some people are super-saints who we hold up high and revere as near deity. We strive to be like Christ, and need no other example, of course. But in a world that truly does idolize people who, by my assessment, are really wasting their lives for no worthy cause, I see the value in encouraging future generations to look to people who spent their lives for the One Worthy Cause.
All that to say, I have said before that Jim and Elisabeth Elliot are two of my earthly heroes. By my estimate, they spent their lives for eternal causes and left an admirable legacy. In short, the Elliots, with several other similarly admirable people, put all their energy into taking the gospel to an unreached tribe in Ecuador. When the men reached the tribe, they were killed on the spot. Later, Elisabeth and the women took their children to live among the same tribe that killed their husbands. Their love and forgiveness were two major factors in slowly leading that tribe to Christ. Aside from that inspiring story, the Elliots are also very godly people in general who have a lot of biblical wisdom to offer (I recommend reading any of their books).
So I said all of that to point to two of Jim Elliot’s famous quotes that are special to my life. They’re not more important than scripture to me – not even close — but they echo ideas from scripture in a wise way, and I appreciate that.
Since we were first married, my husband and I have had this quote framed in our living room:
You may have heard it before. We cherished it as a bit of a family motto from the beginning, in seeking to go into the same line of work as the Elliots. It was a long process with a lot of waiting, and even after we got started we were instantly thrown off course and sent, at the last minute, to a different country than planned. We clung to this motto as we lived in a “stand-by” country for a couple years.
But I was clinging all the more to this motto in our years of infertility (see, there is a point to all this rambling!). I really do think that, in addition to, and perhaps more than, talking about where we geographically are in life, Jim Elliot was encouraging us to “be all there” in any situation in life. It was a great fear of mine that I would waste those barren years (which, at the time, I didn’t know weren’t endless) just waiting for them to be over with already. That’s a fear I have for you, too.
One reason I’m convinced he meant that is because of the second quote I want to share. Jim wrote it to Elisabeth before they were married, in a loooong time of debating/praying over whether it was best for the Kingdom that they should marry at all. I found it in my favorite Elliot book, Let me be a Woman, while I was in the midst of a loooong, long distance engagement with my now husband. He said:
How applicable to infertility! Let us hate the thought of spending months or years, lost so much in our longing that we forget to live! …and may we likewise hate the thought of living for anything but the Kingdom!
An extra thought: Could I encourage you to at least use some of this time as an opportunity from the Lord to pray about if you really are using your life to the fullest extent for the Kingdom? He may not ask you to move to another country or be killed by a tribe (but He really may!), but He may be asking more of you, and this is His time to get your attention. Don’t let it pass you by because your eyes are fixed on something else.
George MacDonald wrote:
[God] changes not because thou changest. Nay, He has
an especial tenderness of love towards thee for that
thou art in the dark and hast no light, and His heart is
glad when thou dost arise and say, “I will go to my
Father.” . . . Fold the arms of thy faith, and wait in the
quietness until light goes up in thy darkness. Fold the
arms of thy Faith I say, but not of thy Action: bethink
thee of something that thou oughtest to do, and go to
do it, if it be but the sweeping of a room, or the prepar-
ing of a meal, or a visit to a friend. Heed not thy feel-
ings: Do thy work.
I found this quote while reading this precious, short, free e-book: When the Darkness will not Lift by John Piper.
By Jon Bloom (DesiringGod.org)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation (Hebrews 11:1–2).
Hebrews 11 is in the Bible to remind us that God hides his most precious treasures for his saints in their most difficult and painful experiences.
When we read this chapter we are supposed to stop and reflect more deeply on this strange motif because it’s just a brief summary (“And what more shall I say, for time will fail me to tell of…” (Hebrews 11:32).
Think of how Abraham and Sarah agonized with infertility, then waited 25 years for God to fulfill his promise of Isaac. Think of how Isaac and Rebekah agonized over the treacherous and nearly murderous rivalry between their twin sons. Think of how Jacob agonized for years in grief over the belief that wild beasts had killed Joseph. Think of how Moses agonized for 40 years in the Midian wilderness over his lost opportunity to deliver his enslaved people. Think of how David agonized for years as Saul hunted him like an animal.
Now think of what each agony eventually resulted in.
The motif of agony giving birth to the greatest blessings … Click Here to continue this encouraging article. It was written neither by nor for me. I liked it, so I shared it with you.
The purpose of this blog is to offer Truth-based encouragement to women struggling with infertility. If you have been encouraged, would you reblog, Pin this blog or post it on your Facebook or Twitter (or other preferred social networking outlet)? There are so many others struggling in the same area, many of whom you’re not even aware of (most people on my facebook feed have no clue that we’re in a trial of infertility). They are silently hoping for someone to share something like this with them.
Would you help expand our encouragement to others?
A little while back I was chatting with my husband’s family on the question of the best book we ever read besides the Bible. Agreeing it was hard to really choose one, we all shared about a book that highly impacted us. My mother-in-law mentioned The Valley of Vision, and others concurred that it was really excellent. I made a mental note to read it sometime. A couple weeks later I was randomly gifted a copy, so I took that as a sign that “sometime” is now.
This morning I started reading it — it’s a book of old Puritan prayers. My husband and I decided to read one a day together before bed. I’m not typically a fan of recited prayers, as Jesus warns against praying the same words over and over like the Pharisees do (see Matthew 6). But I appreciate the poetic nature and sentiment of these very biblical, deep prayers, and the value they add to my own praying.
All that to say, the very first one in the book is the one the title comes from, and it made me tear up immediately. It is so perfect for this trial. I called my husband in for a second reading, and he too got teary. We both expressed an interest in maybe framing it to be reminded of its deep truths, which we have been learning in our trial of infertility.
Here it is (go get the tissues!)…
Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.
In the last several days I’ve encountered all sorts of encouragement on the web. I feel like I keep posting the same pastors and writers over and over, but it’s because I really respect them, and they’re biblical, and maybe a little because I live overseas and don’t have easy access to new people. But definitely more the first two.
Lately, I’ve been trying to cultivate the habit of replacing thoughts-of-the-flesh with thoughts-of-the-Spirit (ahem, I’ve also been reading Galatians, if you can’t tell). This means, as a chronic worrier, when the “what ifs” move in and the anxiety starts to mount, instead of letting it build, I try to immediately put something else in my mind (“Whatever is true … think on these things”). For years my first line of combat has been prayer (“God, please stop these thoughts/calm my heart/make me sleep”); then reading or reciting scripture (“At times I am afraid, I trust in You)”. I’ve had to build up my arsenal in these really tough times, though, and one way I’m doing that is to always be reading at least one book of encouragement (though I may be reading a book for fun on the side, because sometimes reading books about suffering, etc. can bring me down, if I’m not in the right place for them). Anyway, it’s really been working, guys. I’ll be lying in bed, starting to worry, and will just get up and read my book until I’ve replaced the thoughts with truth.
Anyway, let me share with you some places I’ve found encouragement lately, and you can take your pick.
1.) Yup, you guessed it, I’m going to say it again… Tim Keller’s Walking with God though Pain and Suffering (specifically parts 2 +3). I actually just finished it tonight, and I practically highlighted the whole book. I’m glad I did, too, because now I can go back and reread some highlights when I need encouragement again (which will probably be in the next 10 minutes… or 30 seconds).
2.) Tonight I found John Piper’s small book (under 100 pages) When the Darkness will not Lift for free (pdf) on the Desiring God website. It sounds like the perfect thing for right now, and I’ll probably finish it in one sitting. It’s about how to have joy while waiting for the Lord. Perfect, right?
3.) My husband and I watched this encouraging 9-minute video the other night before bed. Sometimes a brief encouragement, as opposed to an hour-long sermon or a 300-page book, is just what you need for that moment. It’s a casual conversation between Pastors John Piper, David Platt, and Matt Chandler on trials and suffering. It made me cry, of course. I was the most touched by Matt Chandler’s words on being “perplexed, but not in despair.” And I learned that David Platt has faced infertility in the past, which led to my next encouragement…
4.) This short interview with Heather Platt was used by God to speak to one of my biggest fears right now — how to rejoice (and not wilt) when my close friend, who is pregnant, gets back to town in a couple months. Sometimes (not all the time, I know), it’s also nice to hear a good post-infertility, God-came-through story, which the Platts have.
5.) I also want to read Charles Spurgeon’s Beside Still Waters, which has great reviews. I heard CJ Mahaney read it daily to his daughter when she was in the hospital with childbirth complications. It sort of looks like you can get the pdf for free here, but so far I haven’t gotten it to work. Let me know if you do, because there isn’t a Kindle version for sale that I can find, unfortunately.
6.) I read that factoid about Mahaney in this little list of resources I randomly came across. It’s meant for pastors to prepare their congregations for suffering, but I breached the system and am bringing it straight to you, no middle man. It has a few more books you may want to look into.
What are some places you’ve found truth-filled encouragement (big or small) recently? Perhaps a video clip, a sermon, a book, an article, a devotional or a song? Please add to my list!