The worst pains

“The worst pains we experience are not those of the suffering itself but of our stubborn resistance to it, our resolute insistance on our independence.” [page 51]

This was me, you guys! As those months started adding up and it was becoming clear that we were in the midst of a trial of infertility, I remember crying in agony to my husband, “I don’t want this to be our story!” My heart just kept thinking, No no no no no — this cannot be happening! 

I was so resistant to accept what was happening, it took months to start really growing from it. Looking back, I wish I could appear to myself back then. I can clearly see those times of lying on my bed weeping for the grief and dread of what was going on: we were meeting barrenness. We were not going to be pregnant “on time” (according to our plans, that is). The Lord was going to do something different. I wish I could put my own hand on my shoulder and say, “This is a good story! God is doing good things! Don’t miss it because you’re stubborn about the story you think you want!”

The quote is from Elisabeth Elliot’s book Keep a Quiet Heart.

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Keep A Quiet Heart – Elisabeth Elliot’s Blog

In the midst of some big changes and a season of many questions about many things, my husband and I decided to set aside a week of concentrated prayer and fasting a few weeks ago. Instead of fasting from food, we opted to fast from the internet. Being the 21st century drone that I can be, I realized pretty early into the first day that this left a regular little void – there were many small moments of the day that I casually filled with “phone checks.” Checking Facebook, checking the news, checking whatever. I decided to pull a new book off my shelf to at least fill these small pockets of 2 or 5 or 15 minutes (food is cooking, baby is nursing, whatever) with something more godward.

coverWell, it turns out I chose the perfect book for the task, and I am totally entranced! Elisabeth Elliot’s somehow overlooked (at least by me) masterpiece titled Keep a Quiet Heart reads like the blog she would’ve written if such a thing existed in her prime. It’s actually a large collection of brief (1-4 pages) essays and articles she composed for a regular newsletter she sent out over the course of years in her life. She writes on what God is teaching her through events, readings, her time in the word, and many other sources. The wisdom contained in these writings is priceless!

At first I planned to merely share a review, as the whole book seemed to focus on dealing with trials, life’s seasons of disquiet, and the like. However, tonight I realized that I had overlooked the divisions of sections on various subjects. As it turns out, that trove of rich reflections was just a drop in the bucket of this book!

Since I couldn’t keep myself from highlighting line after line of insight I didn’t want to forget on the subject of “keeping a quiet heart” as God directs your life, I’ve decided to dedicate the next several posts to some of the best quotes from the first section, titled Faith for the Unexplained. I hope the Lord uses Mrs. Elliot’s words to bless and encourage you in your season!

Here’s the first…

“Our enemy delights in disquieting us. Our Savior and Helper delights in quieting us. ‘As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you’ is His promise [Is. 66:13]. The choice is ours. It depends on our willingness to see everything in God, receive all from His hand, accept with gratitude just the portion and the cup He offers. Shall I charge Him with a mistake in His measurements or with misjudging the sphere in which I can best learn to trust Him? Has He misplaced me? Is He ignorant of things or people which, in my view, hinder my doing His will? […] The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.” [page 20]

Believe that the night is as useful as the day

From Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning devotional book, for June 1.

“It is one of the arrangements of Divine providence that day and night shall not cease either in the spiritual or natural creation till we reach the land of which it is written, ‘there is no night there.’ What our heavenly Father ordains is wise and good.

What, then, my soul, is it best for thee to do? Learn first to be content with this divine order, and be willing, with Job, to receive evil from the hand of the Lord as well as good. Study next, to make the outgoings of the morning and the evening to rejoice. Praise the Lord for the sun of joy when it rises, and for the gloom of evening as it falls. There is beauty both in sunrise and sunset, sing of it, and glorify the Lord. Like the nightingale, pour forth thy notes at all hours. Believe that the night is as useful as the day.”

You can read the whole (short) devotional here. The current print of the book is in more modern English.

Throwback Thursday: The Sweetness of Sorrow

I know I keep mentioning this book, but that’s only because it’s amazing and ya’ll have to read it. I am still in Tim Keller’s Walking with God through Pain and Suffering and highlighting like every word.

At the end of each chapter he includes a testimony — a true story, relative to the chapter’s point, as told by someone who walked a certain trial. It’s a touching end to each message. I just finished one about a man who has ALS and his wife, and the awful trial it has been for them. I read the final quote by her and ran over to post about it, it is just so perfect!

ps119Just the other day my husband and I were at lunch with one of his closest friends and his wife. As we shared with them about our long, painful trial with infertility, we started testifying of how sweet this time has been, as strange as that sounds. We praised the Lord before them for how much this has grown our marriage, sanctified us, and brought us closer to Christ every day. We actually ended by wishing for them that they would be so blessed as to have a trial soon as well. I know that’s a weird thing to say, but I’ve learned (and scripture supports it) that there is probably no better way to grow in Christ and closer to the Father. As much as this trial breaks my heart and aches our spirits, I am so grateful for what it has done in our lives.

I was blessed to hear this woman echo my thoughts:

“We have found meaning, purpose, joy, growth, and wholeness in our loss. How much I would have missed if I had opted out of this season. God has had so much to give me in the midst of it. I see how intense sorrow and intense sweetness are mingled together. The depth and richness of life has come in suffering. How much I have learned and how much sweeter Jesus is to me now.”

If you don’t believe me or her, maybe Peter’s inspired words will convince you:

peter
Click to enlarge.

Reposted from: December 26, 2013

Please Share: What verse or song is speaking to right now?

I LOVE hearing what God is teaching others in the moment. A few years ago I asked on my facebook about a worship song that is touching my friends right now — I was super blessed by the response (especially since I’m overseas and out of the loop with new songs).

Would you please comment with a verse and/or worship song that is special to you right now? I don’t even mean during this year or season or trial… just TODAY, at this moment, what is blessing your heart?

Thanks! I selfishly look forward to being blessed by your responses. 😉

Sovereign, Wise, and Good

A long time ago I took a small group leader’s class at my church. One of the sessions focused on leading people through difficult times in life. There was a “takeaway” from that night that has always stuck with me, especially through trials in my life. It is simple, but perfect for those times when things happen that are out of your control and you don’t know how to respond. It is this truth:

God is sovereign, wise, and good, so I can trust Him.

God is sovereign: He is in control of everything.

God is wise: He knows what is best and doesn’t make mistakes.

God is good: He will not do evil things.

These three truths together give us peace and trust in God when He makes choices for our life that are hard to understand or agree with. I encourage you to repeat that truth to yourself as much as needed so that you can remind yourself to trust Him when it’s the hardest.

I thought this would be a fitting song to go with this thought today…

Throwback Thursday: You’ll get through this

I wrote this while I was still waiting for my baby, but past the darkest days of our trial. I still mean it, probably now more than ever, and if you need to hear it right now, I sincerely hope it encourages you.

I know some of you are in your darkest hour. I remember what it was like to be in the deepest depths of the pit of despair. I remember walking around my house and spontaneously bursting into tears, even surprising myself with the level of sorrow inside of me. I remember lying in bed, inconsolable and broken, literally crying out to the Lord in my weariest, tear-soaked voice, “Where are You? Where are You?” I remember thinking it was never going to get better.

ps40The Lord has not yet given me a child, but He did answer many of my prayers to make it better. Little by little, He dug me out of the pit and provided the joy and strength I needed. It’s not always totally better, but it’s better than it was.

And in remembering this, I think of so many of you who may be reading this, aching inside, dying inside, lying broken at the bottom of the valley. And you probably don’t need a lesson, a rebuke or even a Bible verse. You just need to be reminded: You’ll get through this. It’ll get better. You can do this. I know it seems unthinkable, relentless, unbearable and hopeless. But you can do this. This is not the end of your journey. There is hope — there is always hope. It’s bad now, but it will not always be like this.

If no one else has told you yet, let me be the first: you’re going to get through this.

You’re in good company. Before His death, Jesus pleaded with God to spare Him from the coming agony. God didn’t. On the cross, I believe, He had His time in the pit, as He was crying out, like you and me, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” But God came through for Him, and He will for you.

joy comes

If you are seeking advice, the best I can say for today is to start praying earnestly that God will give you what you lack inside. For me, it was real strength, joy, peace, and hope. And He will be faithful and give you those things. It may take a few days, weeks, even months. But He will not leave you in this pit. He will come for you.

It’s going to be ok.

Reposted from November 4, 2013.

Throwback Thursday: Half an answer to “Why?”

In a recent Bible study meeting this quote was brought up, and it inspired me to share it again. I cannot recommend Tim Keller’s book enough. It was very helpful for both of us. 

I am currently l.o.v.i.n.g. Tim Keller’s bookWalking with God through Pain and Suffering. […] I’m only in the middle of it, and I already have tons of quotes I’m just dying to share. Here’s one I read last night that really touched my heart. It addresses the question of “why” in trial.

“Yes, we do not know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, or why it is so random, but now at least we know what the reason is not. It cannot be that He does not love us. It cannot be that He does not care. He is so committed to our ultimate happiness that He was willing to plunge into the greatest depths of suffering Himself. He understands us, He has been there, and He assures us that He has a plan to eventually wipe away every tear. Someone might say, ‘But that’s only half an answer to the question, ‘Why?” Yes, but it is the half we need.”

Amen and amen!

Reposted from November 12, 2013.

How sweet is His word

honey

I know you shouldn’t really advertise when you’re fasting and such, but I’m kind of excited so I have to share.

For Lent this year I decided to give up sweets and replace them with the sweetness of the Word. To kick it off, I spent time in Psalm 119, soaking in the beautiful verses and searching for some to memorize as I fend off my sweet tooth. In the process, I found some special verses for all of you! So please allow me to share!

“My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to Your word!” 119:25

“My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word!” 119:28

“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways.” 119:37  (I thought of hours of destructive googling time and time spent on forums, etc.)

“This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” 119:50

“At midnight I rise to praise You, because of Your righteous rules.” 119:62 (I thought of hours of sleepless nights, praying instead of worrying.)

“Let Your steadfast love comfort me according to Your promise to Your servant.” 119:76

“Great peace have those who love Your law; nothing can make them stumble.” 119:165

Also, I would love to hear if you are doing anything special during this Lent season, if you don’t mind saying!

If Elisabeth Elliot were writing this blog… (Part 2)

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