Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015) was a missionary whose first husband, Jim Elliot, was one of five missionaries killed in 1956 while attempting to make contact with the Auca Indians of eastern Ecuador. Elisabeth later worked as a missionary to the very tribe members who had killed her husband. Here she tells of the role suffering plays in the Christian life…
When I was told that my first husband, Jim, was missing in Auca Indian country, the Lord brought to mind the words of the prophet Isaiah: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.” I prayed silently, “Lord, let not the waters overflow me,” and he heard me and he answered me.
Two years later I went to live with the Indians who had killed Jim. Sixteen years after that, after I had come back to the United States, I married a theologian named Addison Leitch. He died of cancer three-and-a-half years later.
There have been some hard things in my life, of course, as there have been in yours, and I cannot say to you I know exactly what you’re going through. But I can say that I know the One who knows, and I’ve come to see that it’s through the deepest suffering that God has taught me the deepest lessons. And, if we’ll trust him for it, we can come to the unshakable assurance that he’s in charge, that he has a loving purpose, and that he can transform something terrible into something wonderful. Suffering is never for nothing.
Now picture a small clearing in the Amazon jungle. There are six or eight little thatched houses, none with walls. Only two people are awake: Mincaye, who is singing a repetitive little song, and the only other person (the one wearing clothes!), who is sitting in her hammock by the fire, pondering the mysteries of the ways of God. She thinks of one Scripture passage, now loaded with meaning for her: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
This article was taken from issue #45 of the Heroes of the Faith.