I am presently reading a book written by Elizabeth Elliot called, ‘A Path Through Suffering’. Elizabeth’s first husband, Jim Elliot, and four other missionaries died in 1956 at the hands of members of the Ecuadorean indigenous tribe that they were seeking to reach with the gospel. Elizabeth and Jim had been married for less than three years and she was left to bring up their ten-month-old daughter Valerie.
Running like a golden thread through Elizabeth’s book, as she shares her own and others’ journeys through suffering, is the hope that comes through knowing Jesus empathising with and walking with us through our deepest hurts and sorrows. My faith is stirred by reading testimonies of powerful healings and deliverance in people’s lives, but equally I find hope in the stories of those who God doesn’t heal or deliver, but who still testify of knowing His grace and power to endure and glorify Him in the midst of their pain. Like the three Hebrew men thrown into Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace, they testify of One walking in the furnace flames with them setting them free in the fire.
I was drawn by the title of Elizabeth Elliot’s book at this time because there are circumstances in my own life that I particularly need the Lord’s grace to go through. As I’ve read her book, I’ve remembered His faithfulness to me in past times of darkness and difficulty. I’ve been reminded that, although there is healing as we follow Jesus, above all it’s about growing in intimacy with Him, sharing Him with others and being changed more and more into His likeness, often through the trials and suffering that we go through.
In the song ‘Even if’, sung by the Christian group MercyMe, the writer of the song expresses his struggle as he stands on a stage singing songs reminding the broken that it’ll be alright, when his own heart is as full of pain as those he’s singing to. He faces the question of what if the Lord doesn’t move the mountains that have risen up before him, or rescue him from the fire of the trial he’s in. But he chooses to place his flickering faith and hope in Jesus, who Himself wasn’t delivered from the ultimate suffering of the cross.
For anyone reading this Seed today, whose prayer and cry to be delivered from pain and difficulty seems unanswered, I pray that you will know the presence of Jesus as He walks with you through the trial that you are in.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I know You’re able and I know You can save through the fire with Your mighty hand. But even if You don’t, my hope is You alone. I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt would all go away if You’d just say the word. But even if You don’t, my hope is You alone.’ (words from ‘Even if’ by MercyMe) Amen.
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