Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Embracing Your Brokenness

Jennifer Rothschild: Blindness is not what makes me broken.

Leslie Basham: This is Jennifer Rothschild.

Jennifer: If it is not well with your circumstance that is not what makes you broken. That is simply what God can use to introduce you to your own brokenness.

Leslie: You’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, May 25.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: "When all is not well with your circumstances, it can still be well with your soul." Jennifer Rothschild made that powerful statement yesterday as we listened to a message that she delivered at the True Woman Conference in Chattanooga earlier this year. That concept that it can be well with your soul even if it’s not well with your circumstances was one that spoke very deeply to me as I sat and listened to her message in Chattanooga.

As a teenager, Jennifer learned what it was like to face challenging circumstances. On yesterday’s visit, she told us about the doctor visit that would change her life. That’s when she heard the prognosis—blindness. But what Jennifer could not anticipate at that moment was all the treasures God was going to bring out of the darkness in her life.

Now let’s listen to part two of Jennifer Rothschild’s message delivered in March at the True Woman Conference.

Jennifer Rothschild: For me what I really longed for was independence—an ability to drive my own car, to make my own decisions, to look in the mirror and decide if I liked the color that I was wearing that day. And suddenly, independence on every level was being stripped away, consequently creating an insatiable thirst for independence, which I figured that the only way to quench it was to go off to college.

So on August 15 I was to be a Freshman on the campus of Palm Beach Atlantic, and I thought it was the best idea ever—until, August 14. At about 3:00 in the afternoon, it hit me—“I’m about to go off to college, and I don’t know anybody! Who’s going to help me?” And I remember calling my mom out into the front yard and crying and negotiating and lamenting, “Mom, I can’t do this! I don’t know what I was thinking! I can’t go to college. Who’s going to tell me what food’s on my plate? Who’s going to tell me I ironed creases out of my pants rather than into them? How am I really going to know it’s safe to cross that street in the middle of the campus? How am I really going to know?”

So much of the reason we hover in the front yard of our life, and it’s always August 14, is because we are so dominated by our feelings.

I don’t think I understood completely on August 14 when my mother wiped away her own tears what she was really dealing with. Several years ago I was on the phone with a writer for a magazine. She was doing a great interview, and near the end of this interview, she said to me, “I’d love to talk to your mother. Do you think your mom would be willing?”

I said, “I’ll ask,” but I really thought my mom wouldn’t be interested. Here’s the reason: My mom is a one-on-one lover of people, and she will give and pour out, but she’s very private. This kind of setting probably wouldn’t be one she would be comfortable with, and I totally honor and respect that. But even so, I called, and I said, “Mom, would you be willing?” She hesitated. It wasn’t for the reasons I expected.

She said, “I can’t. I can’t answer those questions for that writer because to her your blindness is a story, but to me, your blindness is a wound that really hurts.”

That’s the truth of life. It hurts. It’s not well with your circumstances, and when it’s not well with your circumstances, you can ask, “What if? What if?” But I want to remind you of something I learned from my mother that day that she never actually spoke with her lips.

My mom carries a burden for my blindness that I believe is much heavier than the burden I actually carry for myself. There are some women in this room who know exactly what I meant by that statement because you’re a hero—whether you’re a mom who has a child who was born with some really special needs, whether you’re a daughter who’s watching your parents age and it is breaking your heart, whether you’re a wife who is looking at that husband who has just received a diagnosis and you are not only terrified for him but you’re terrified for yourself. You know what it feels like to bear that heavy weight of compassion and empathy.

Here’s what I want to remind you of: God’s grace is sufficient. In 2 Corinthians chapter 12, verses 8 and 9, the apostle Paul said to God, “I’ve got something in my life that hurts.” He called it a thorn, and it hurts. Whether you possess the thorn or someone you love has it, it hurts. When Paul asked the Father, “Take it away; take it away; make it go away,” God responded with grace because, you see, thorn removal isn’t sufficient in and of itself. Only grace is sufficient.

So those of you who have the responsibility to watch that person you love carry a heavy burden, may I just remind you that what God has given me as the one who carries the burden of blindness, what God has given that parent, that child, that sister, that friend you love who has to carry the burden of cancer or autism or Alzheimer’s, God has given us participant grace. It’s adequate grace to participate with the burden.

But you, my hero, sister who has to watch and cry and pray those silent prayers and cry those invisible tears, God’s given you what I call spectator grace. Now that’s not in 2 Corinthians. The point is, whether God has granted you the sufficiency of His grace in the package of being a participant or a spectator, His grace is sufficient, so rest in His grace. Rest in His grace.

God’s grace in Titus 2:11 is what equips us and empowers us to say, “No,” to ungodliness. But His grace is also what equips us and empowers us to cease our striving and allow Him to be the One who wills and works within us for His good pleasure. So rest.

I was in church last year, well, I go every Sunday. (laughter) Just to clarify, one Sunday last year I was in church, and our teacher in small group was going through the book of Luke. He was at the place of discussing the Good Samaritan, and I remember sitting there and thinking, “Oh, great. I know this story.” I know you never do this, but as soon as Cliff started reading about the Good Samaritan, I started making my grocery list and thinking how I was going to help Conner with his homework that afternoon, and I caught myself.

As I caught myself, I said, “Lord, I’m sorry. I want to be very present in this story.” I want to be present because whether it’s your story, whether it’s my story, whether it’s the story of the Good Samaritan that Jesus told, every story has the potential of being God’s story, so we don’t want to miss it. So I asked God, “Help me in this story, Lord. Show me who I am.” I’ve done this for years. You may have, too.

As Cliff was reading about the man who was on the journey, and he got beat up by robbers, and he was left for dead on the side of the road, then Cliff began to read how some men came by him: the Priest, the Levite. They, of course, were too busy or had other reasons for not helping the poor, broken, injured man. But then along came the Samaritan, and, of course, so counter-cultural, he helped the man who was wounded. He made great sacrifice and took a great risk to do so.

As I was listening, I thought, “Hmmm, am I the Priest? Am I the Levite?” I’ve been a Christian for many years. Sometimes Christians can get really busy in their religion and miss out on actually ministering and noticing true needs. Not me! I’m in public ministry. I’m kind of like a professional Christian. (laughter) Like a Priest or a Levite. Am I them?

Well, that day I really asked the Lord, and I didn’t feel like I was the Priest or the Levite. So I thought about the Samaritan. “God, am I the Samaritan? I have lost so much in my life, but it is from that well of loss that You have filled me that I have so much to give. Is that me? Am I the Samaritan?”

On that day, I couldn’t think of a reason I was the Samaritan. I remember asking the Lord, “Wait a minute! I’m not the Priest; I’m not the Levite; I’m not the Samaritan. Lord, I’ve got to be in this story.” Then it dawned on me. There is a fourth man in that story. That’s me. And, sisters, that’s you. We’re the broken one on the side of the road who’s been beat up by life.

Some of us feel the victimization of what we’ve experienced. Some of us feel like we’ve been left for dead. And here’s the thing: In our spiritual condition, we are destitute unless someone comes and binds our wounds and meets our needs.

You see, even in blindness I had such a sense of being spiritually elite. I wanted to be the religious one or the helping one. In other words, I wanted God to need me much more than I needed God.

I began to weep as I heard the Scripture read. I don’t want to be spiritually elite. I want to recognize my own brokenness. And here’s the thing: Blindness is not what makes me broken. If it is not well with your circumstance, that is not what makes you broken. That is simply what God can use to introduce you to your own brokenness.

Therefore, do not resist that which God has allowed to shape you and refine you and make you a true woman, a woman of beauty that is refined only through experiencing the brokenness that comes in its place.

On this stage, I don’t know if you can see it, but I have a stool. I didn’t always use a stool when I spoke.

About six months ago, I went through some real changes. Some of it’s just my age; some of it’s just what happens when you mourn a loss through the stages of life. Sometimes it takes you off guard. I was just really struggling, and one of the ways I was mostly impacted was through my orientation. I would stand up to teach to the left wall and had no idea I was speaking that way. I would hear my husband and my assistant coughing wildly to try and help me know where to look. First couple of times, of course, I would laugh it off, and then it just wasn’t funny.

I remember in the month of September, halfway through the message, being so lost on stage, not knowing where I was, not even being able to find the stool, and beginning to weep. I wept throughout the entire message. I couldn’t even do a book signing. I wept in the bathroom. I went back to the hotel room, and I wept. I woke up crying. I do trust God more than my feelings, but I was drowning in a Niagara of hopelessness.

I remember asking God, “I want to be the Priest and the Levite and the Samaritan. I don’t want to be that man. I don’t want to be broken. I don’t want to have to get up and be meek. I want to be strong. I just want to write books and do podcasts.” You don’t have to have eye contact or know where you are when you do those things.

God graciously, because it is grace that empowers us to respond according to His kindness and His will, has helped me to refasten the bridle of blindness on to my life, and allow it to not be that which defines me but once again allow it to be that which refines me and that which He uses as a cross in my life, a place where I can surrender.

A guy named Greg sent me an email recently that said, “I have cancer. I have faith. I don’t know how to have both.” We began an email correspondence, and after about six months, he emailed and said his cancer was in remission. I was thrilled. Then I received an email months later from Greg. “Dear Jennifer, it’s Greg again. The cancer is back, and I am so scared.”

I read my next email. Of course, my computer talks also, so as I was listening to the next email. It was from a woman. I remembered her. She had been at one of my conferences just a few weeks earlier. She had been very pregnant, and she wrote to tell me that her baby was born, but her baby was stillborn. She was devastated.

One of the things about walking with Jesus for a long time is He allows you to be full of truth and grace. I remember how mercy just blindsided me that day, and I wept over those emails. You know what my spiritual response was? “Oh God, why? Why cancer? You healed it once. Why couldn’t You heal it again? Why? Why stillborn babies? And God, why blindness? Why?”

I went to my piano and just tried to process what I had read and felt and thought and prayed. As I was playing the piano, it was as if, in my mind’s eye, an image of the cross appeared. My questions transitioned from, “Why cancer and why blindness?” to “Why grace?” That’s what we really don’t deserve. Why forgiveness? Why peace? How dearly the spiritually elite, when we, as the broken man on the side of the road, have been given that which we don’t deserve.

It may not be well with your soul, but when you come to the cross, you’ll realize that God has made it well with your soul.

You may struggle with so many “what if’s” in your life, but when you come to the cross, you see what it is, and what it is is divinely unfair and amazingly equipping that you are able to walk with grace in this life. So don’t resist.

I know many of the women in this room have been to church, but I’m asking you this morning, “Have you been to the cross?”

(Jennifer singing)

When peace like a river attendeth my way. When sorrow’s like sea billows roll.
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me say, “It is well. It is well with my soul.”

It is well, with my soul. It is well, it is well with soul.

My sin oh the bliss of this glorious thought. It was my sin not in part but the whole.
My sin was nailed to Your cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord Oh my soul.

Nancy: That’s the music of Jennifer Rothschild. Jennifer Rothschild spoke at the True Woman Conference in Chattanooga this past March and we’ve been listening to that powerful message about how we can experience God’s amazing grace and peace—even in the midst of the points of our greatest darkness and loss. If you missed any of this story, you can hear it at

The things that Jennifer shared out of her life in the message are basic truths we can tether our hearts to when life doesn’t work. It’s all about coming to trust God and His faithfulness more than we trust our own feelings, leaning on Him believing He has a purpose and a plan for our lives and that nothing can thwart that plan.

That’s the message we’re sharing with hundreds of thousands of women across this country and around the world day after day. It is a message that is changing lives. It is giving hope and encouragement and grace and perspective and it’s reconciling marriage. It’s helping people come to faith in Christ. It’s restoring relationships. The truth is so powerful, and it’s such a great privilege to be part of this ministry where we are seeing God transform lives in such a significant way.

That’s why I am so grateful for the prayers and the financial support of listeners like you who help to make this ministry possible. Now, if you’ve been listening over the last few weeks, you’ve heard me share that we are at the most difficult financial place that we have been in our nearly 10 year history on the radio. I’m refusing to panic about that because I know that God is in control, that He is good, that He is our ultimate provider, and that He knows what we need. He will provide according to His will to meet those needs.

But I also want to let you know about those needs, so that you can have a chance to partner with us in continuing this ministry.

As we’ve been sharing, we’re coming to the end of our fiscal year, just less than a week from now. Next Monday is the end of our fiscal year. We are still hundreds of thousands of dollars short of where we need to be to close this year in the black.

As part of that, we have a special matching challenge that has been extended just this month to those who have never given before to support that ministry of Revive Our Hearts. So if you’ve never sent a gift before, any gift you send this week will be doubled dollar for dollar.

Now, I realize there are some who are in a financial situation where they are not able to help at this time. I don’t want you to feel any pressure at all. But if God has put you in a position where you could send a special gift at this time, I just want you to know that would be a great help and encouragement. Your gift at this time will be an eternal investment in the lives of women who desperately need to hear that message that we’re sharing day after day through Revive Our Hearts.

When you send your gift of any amount we’d like to say “thank you” by sending you a copy of our newest release called, Voices of the True Woman Movement. I will tell you how you can be a part of the counter-revolution that God is orchestrating in the hearts of women all across this country and around the world.

If the Lord is putting it on your heart to share with us in helping us to meet this current need, just give us a call at 1-800-569-5959. Or if you prefer, you can give online at

So thank you for giving and thank you for praying with us that God will meet this need over these next several days.

I hope you’ll join us tomorrow when we begin an important series called, The Power of Relationships. That’s next time on Revive Our Hearts.

Jennifer singing:

It is well, with my soul.
It is well; it is well with my soul

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.


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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.