31 Days With Elisabeth Elliot: The World Must Be Shown

Elisabeth Elliot2This is from Elisabeth’s book Keep A Quiet Heart:

When Jesus was speaking with His disciples before His crucifixion, He gave them His parting gift: peace such as the world can never give. But He went on immediately to say, “Set your troubled hearts at rest and banish your fears…. I shall not talk much longer with you, for the Prince of this world approaches. He has no rights over me, but the world must be shown that I love the Father and do exactly as he commands” (John 14:27, 30-31, NEB).

A young mother called to ask for “something that will help me to trust in the Lord.” She explained that she had several small children, she herself was thirty years old, and she had cancer. Chemotherapy had done its hideous work of making her totally bald. The prognosis was not good. Could I say to her, “Set your troubled heart at rest. God is going to heal you”? Certainly not. Jesus did not tell His disciples that He would not be killed. How do I know whether God would heal this young woman? I could, however, remind her that He would not for a moment let go of her, that His love enfolded her and her precious children every minute of every day and every night, and that underneath are the Everlasting Arms.

But is that enough? The terrible things in the world seem to make a mockery of the love of God, and the question always arises: Why!

There are important clues in the words of Jesus. The disciples’ worst fears were about to be realized, yet He commanded (yes, commanded) them to be at peace. All would be well, all manner of things would be well–in the end. In a short time, however, the Prince of this world, Satan himself, was to be permitted to have his way. Not that Satan had any rights over Jesus. Far from it. Nor has he “rights” over any of God’s children, including that dear mother. But Satan is permitted to approach. He challenges God, we know from the Book of Job, as to the validity of His children’s faith.

God allows him to make a test case from time to time. It had to be proved to Satan, in Job’s case, that there is such a thing as obedient faith which does not depend on receiving only benefits. Jesus had to show the world that He loved the Father and would, no matter what happened, do exactly what He said. The servant is not greater than his Lord. When we cry “Why, Lord?” we should ask instead, “Why not, Lord? Shall I not follow my Master in suffering as in everything else?”

Does our faith depend on having every prayer answered as we think it should be answered, or does it rest rather on the character of a sovereign Lord? We can’t really tell, can we, until we’re in real trouble.

I never heard more from the young woman. I neglected to ask her address. But I prayed for her, asking God to enable her to show the world what genuine faith is–the kind of faith that overcomes the world because it trusts and obeys, no matter what the circumstances. The world does not want to be told. The world must be shown. Isn’t that part of the answer to the great question of why Christians suffer?

I started to just share the paragraphs with the sentences I highlighted, but then as I reread through the whole piece, I couldn’t leave any of it out. My tendency in any trial is to ask for it to stop, now please. But God not only works in and through the trial in my own life, it is also a testimony to others…and not just to others on Earth. Ephesians 3:10 says, “ so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” God shows His wisdom in His dealings with us even to creatures “in heavenly places!” When I think of it, I try now to pray not just for quick deliverance (though in my flesh that would still be my desire), but that others may see Jesus through it all.

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See all the posts in this series here.

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4 thoughts on “31 Days With Elisabeth Elliot: The World Must Be Shown

  1. I love the description of obedient faith – it does not depend on receiving only benefits. I know I question what to say to people in my life whose challenge is not one we can take lightly and say something flippant like, I pray you will be better soon. Elisabeth Elliot described very well how we can walk along side someone who is in the most difficult of situations. Thank you!

  2. My first reaction in a trial is why me? I’m beginning to see trials in a different light. God chooses those who are willing. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Pingback: 31 Days With Elisabeth Elliot | Stray Thoughts

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