Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Holding Up Under Pressure

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Download "How to Endure Suffering."

Leslie Basham: I’ll bet you can think of a recent painful situation. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says, “Don’t be surprised when those trials arrive.”

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: You will suffer. The question is not: Will you suffer? The question is: What will you do with it? And what you must do with it is endure, which is to hold up under it, to stay firm in your love for Christ and in your commitment to your mission under suffering and hardship.

Leslie: Today is June 12, 2019, and you're listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of The Quiet Place.

A woman once wrote to Revive Our Hearts asking for advice. She found out her husband was involved with another woman who was now pregnant with his child. This wife was asking how she could share Christ’s love for this other woman and care for the unborn child.

Well, that’s an amazing reaction to horrible circumstances, and it’s also an example of enduring hardship with God’s kingdom and glory in mind. That’s what we’ve been learning about in a series called, "Enduring Life’s Hardships." Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: We’re looking at the subject of endurance. And you may be thinking, That’s not a subject I need right now. Life is going fine. The sun is shining. I’ve got money in the bank. My husband thinks I’m great. My kids respect me and obey me. Anybody in here in that kind of circumstance?

And there really are days when the sun does shine and things look good and you think, Why do I need a series on endurance? But as someone has said, “You’re either coming out of a storm, or you’re in a storm, or you’re headed into a storm.” Sooner or later there will be storms of life—things that are hard, things that require endurance.

I find that the older I get and the longer I walk with the Lord, the more challenging it is to endure. I don’t know, for some reason when I was seventeen it didn’t seem so hard to endure. Or the things I had to endure were algebra tests. Now those don’t seem like such a big deal. But now life is a lot more gritty and complex. I realize more and more that we live in a very broken, fallen world.

If it’s not your life that’s a mess, the people around you are a mess, and there are huge life issues at any given point in life. I find I have several close friends who are going through major trauma, major circumstances in their lives that are difficult to endure. And then that becomes a part of your life, and you find yourself enduring with them and trying to administer grace to them through that. And then circumstances come into our own lives.

So I’ve been looking over the last several months at the book of Second Timothy. I've been studying it in my personal quiet time. You might wonder how I do that. There's no great big secret, no mysterious ways I do this. I open my Bible to Seond Timothy. It's something that had been on my heart. A group of people in my church had been memorizing it. It was being taught in the Sunday school class that I attended. I just thought the Lord was directing me to spend some additional time in that book—in addition to others things I generally do in my quiet time.

But I have just read the book over and over and over and over again. Sometimes I'll read the entire four chapters in my quiet time. Sometimes I'll get stopped on just a sentence or a paragraph and just meditate on it, dwell on it, muse over it, mull over it. I hold it up like a piece of jewelry to the light and look at it from different angles. Then I meditate on it again and again. I think about it in context of life circumstances I'm facing.

I haven't memorized Second Timothy as some of my friends have. But often when it is a shorter passage, that helps me to get it more and more into my system. As I've been reading. I've had a paper and pen at hand and have been jotting down insights from Second Timothy about how to endure hardship and suffering.

I think I was prompted to get into this because several months ago we were facing in our ministry some challenges related to some operational transitions, and things were just kind of crazy.

I didn’t want to live with my tongue hanging out and always panting or complaining or whining. I wanted God’s perspective on how to deal with pressures and problems. I haven’t arrived, and that’s why I’m teaching this series because I often teach out of what God is trying to work in my own life.

So I want to encourage you to be in the book of Second Timothy, to be reading it, meditating on it, and asking God to show you how to endure hardship and suffering.

Now you remember the context is that the apostle Paul is in a Roman prison, not the most hospitable of circumstances. It is, in fact, dreadful circumstances, horrible circumstances, unimaginable circumstances.

And Paul knew that whether it was in prison or out, he was going to be executed. He was, in fact, on death row and knew that he did not have long to live. He was writing to his young friend Timothy out of prison, a young pastor in Ephesus who was easily discouraged, easily intimidated, who faced opposition.

This was a political situation that was very dangerous for Christians. Paul wanted to help Timothy know how to make it all the way to the finish line and stay faithful. That’s what I want to do, and that’s why I’ve dug into this passage.

Paul says to Timothy, “First of all, expect to suffer. Don’t think that you will be immune from it just because you are a godly pastor. Expect it. Prepare for it. It will happen. You need it. Others need it. There is purpose in it.”

Then he gives insights on how to endure the suffering. The question is not: Will you suffer? The question is: What will you do with it? And what you must do with it is endure, which is to hold up under it, to stay firm in your love for Christ and in your commitment to your mission under suffering and hardship.

We looked in the last session at the first principle, which is don’t forget why you’re suffering. Remember that there is purpose in your suffering. It’s for the sake of the gospel. It’s for the sake of those who will believe in the gospel, who will see that Christ is real as a result of what they see in your life. It’s all for God’s glory.

And Paul says, “With those things at stake, I am willing to do whatever is required. I will endure any hardship, any pain. It’s a small price to pay for the sake of the gospel, for the sake of those who will believe as a result of my faithfulness, God’s faithfulness in me. It’s a small price to pay if that’s what it takes for God to be glorified.”

Now, today I want us to look at several other insights from Second Timothy, and we’ll walk through these a little more quickly. The second of the ten we’re going to look at is remember that you are a prisoner of Christ, not of your circumstances or other people.

Paul says in chapter 1 verse 8 of 2 Timothy, “Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner.” Paul says, “I am a prisoner of Jesus Christ. He says it elsewhere in Ephesians chapter 3, verse 1. “I am a prisoner of Jesus Christ.”

Now, if we had been writing Paul’s biography at that point, we would have probably said Paul was a prisoner of the Roman government. Nero was the emperor. Paul was a prisoner of Nero. But Paul doesn’t even mention the Romans. Paul doesn’t mention Nero, the emperor. And you can imagine what he might have been able to say about Nero?

But he says, “I am a prisoner of Jesus Christ. I am here at His appointing. He is the one who has put me in these circumstances. And even if I weren’t in this Mamertine Prison, this dungeon in the belly of the earth, I’m still a prisoner of Jesus Christ. Wherever I live, wherever I go, whatever my circumstances—sun shining; rain falling—I am a prisoner of Jesus Christ.”

Now as we get into circumstances of life, we tend to feel imprisoned by our circumstances. I think of young moms with a lot of little ones at home feeling trapped, trapped in their home, trapped in those circumstances—“I didn’t plan on this many children. I don’t think I can handle this.”

Or women feeling trapped in a difficult marriage or trapped in a job they don’t care for, or trapped in a body that won’t do what it used to do. There are a lot of circumstances and situations in life in which we can feel trapped.

Whatever the circumstance, Paul says, “You’re not a prisoner of your circumstances. You are not a prisoner of other people. You are a prisoner of Jesus Christ.” And that is a joyful imprisonment. To be His is to be cared for by Him. It’s to be there at His bidding, there at His pleasure, there for His glory, there for His purposes. Paul says, “I am a prisoner of Jesus Christ.” Remember that if you want to endure suffering.

And then—here’s a third insight—keep going back to the things you know to be true. Keep going back to the things you know to be true, the basics. Remind yourself of the basics.

What are some of those things? Well, Paul says, “Hold onto the things that you’ve learned to be true from God’s Word.” Chapter 1, verse 13, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, the doctrine I’ve taught you, the things about God, about Christ, about salvation. Follow those things in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (paraphrased).

Paul says, “Don’t doubt in the dark what you have learned in the light, what you know to be true about God and His Word.” Hold onto those things. Remind yourself about your salvation. If everything else in your life is falling apart, remind yourself that you’re a child of God.

Paul says to Timothy in chapter 1, verse 5, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. ”

Paul says, “Your grandmother had faith; your mother had faith. And God has put faith in your own heart. You have become a child of God.”

Now one of the points there is it’s not enough for your parents and grandparents to have it. You have to have your own. If God has put faith and repentance in your heart, hold onto that. Remind yourself of what you know to be true. I’m a child of God; I am saved; I have been redeemed from sin by the blood of Jesus Christ. Remind yourself of that when it looks like everything in your world is falling apart.

Remind yourself of your calling, how you got to be where you are. Paul says in chapter 1, verse 1, “[I’m] an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus.”

Paul says, “I’m here because God appointed me to be an apostle. God called me. It was God’s will for me to be in this position, and it was while I was serving God in this position that I ended up in this place.”

Chapter 1, verse 9, he says, “God saved us and called us to a holy calling.” Verse 11 of chapter 1, he says, “I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher of the gospel.” I didn’t choose this career for myself. I didn’t say that I want to be a great evangelist or church planter.

He says, if you put yourself there you can wonder, Did I put myself in prison by my own choices? But he says, “God called me. I had no choice. I was doing what God made me to do, what God saved me to do.” Remember your calling.

You say, “Well, I’m not a preacher. I’m not an evangelist. I’m not a church planter.” What are you? And are you there by God’s appointing and God’s calling? Are you married by God’s appointment and calling? Then remember that God put you there in even the difficult times of that marriage and what it may result in. Are you single by God’s appointing and calling at this season in your life? Then remember, “God put me here.”

The job that you’re in, the family that you have, the circumstances that you have, the mother that you have brought to live with you in your home who can’t care for herself—did you do this according to the principles of God’s Word? Did you do it at God’s calling according to God’s will? You say, “Yes, but it’s hard.” That’s what Paul could have said.

“I’m an apostle by God’s calling, but it’s hard.” Okay, remind yourself how you got there. God put me into this calling, and that means there are some hard things about that, but I will endure those because I am there by God’s calling."

Periodically, I ask God to affirm my calling in ministry. I say, "Lord, help me to know, remind me why I'm here. Remind me why I'm doing this. Because if I know I'm here at Your calling, then I know that You will give me grace to go with that calling. If I know I'm doing what is Your will for my life, then I know there will be grace to go with that."

There have been times recently (maybe because I was preparing to teach this series) when I have just felt inadequate for my calling, overwhelmed by my calling, and having what I call “meltdowns” over my calling.

In the process of that within the last couple of weeks, a friend sent an email to me and said, “The father of lies found a weary warrior and pounced on her emotions. So I thought it might be good to bring a fresh supply of truth to your aid. Here’s what’s true.” And this friend reminded me of the things that are true, the basics. Remember the things that are true. This friend said,

You are called to this ministry by God. You know that. And like Moses, who protested when he was called, complaining that he was slow of speech, God has and will go before you. He is not a God who calls us and abandons us.

So I read that, and I thought, You know, I feel really unsteady on my feet right now. My eyes are so filled with tears I can hardly read this. But it’s true. It’s true.

So I just counseled my heart according to the truth. The second truth this friend said:

You have the mind of Christ and the Holy Spirit of truth. He will lead you into all truth. He will illumine your heart and mind and will give you His wisdom and understanding.

Here’s a third thing that’s true:

You have been gifted by the Holy Spirit to teach, to exhort, to equip. Your ministry is not by might, nor by power. It’s not your adequacy; it’s not your strength, but by the Holy Spirit.

Now those things are so basic. I know those things. I would write those things to somebody else who needed to endure. But I needed to be reminded myself of the things that are true. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gone back to that email and just reminded myself of the things that I know are true, counseled my heart according to the truth.

I’m called to this ministry by God. God has equipped me. God’s grace is sufficient.

That's why I love the bookmark that we make available witht he Lies Women Believe book. It's a bookmark with the truths that set us free. A number of times over that years I have gone back over that bookmark and read aloud to myself the truths listed on that little bookmark.

It's true that God's grace is sufficient for me; that God does love me. I go back and rehearse that things that I know are true. Keep going back to the things you know to be true.

Then number four, keep doing whatever God has called you to do. Keep doing it regardless of how hard it is or how much opposition you face. Since Revive Our Hearts radio started several years ago, there have been some major seismic shifts in the Christian media industry, also in the Christian publishing ministry and in our churches.

So today when it comes to publishing books or broadcasting programs or doing the kinds of things we do in our ministry, there has been a real shift in the fact that people are not so eager to hear the hard truths. There’s this sense of, "Feed me what I want to hear. Give me what will make me feel good rather than what I need to hear.”

It’s been challenging for ministries like ours because, for example, there are radio stations that do not want to air the kinds of things we’re teaching. Now, I’m not saying that because a station doesn’t carry Revive Our Hearts that that’s the reason. But it’s been a very difficult time for teaching ministries. People say, “We want more music. We don’t want to hear so much of the teaching.” And in some cases that’s made it difficult for our ministry to know what to do.

As we were facing some of these challenges, I came across 2 Timothy chapter 4, the first paragraph beginning in verse 1 where Paul tells Timothy what you do in such times. He says,

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions (2 Tim. 4:1–3).

It sounds so like today.

He says they "will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, [Timothy, Nancy,] always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (vv. 4–5).

I remember coming across that passage while we were wrestling with some of these issues in our own ministry and thinking, Can ministries like ours even survive in the current climate?

And God just used this passage to infuse conviction and faith into my heart and say, “Okay, this is the world we live in. The apostle Paul told us thousands of years ago this would happen. This is no surprise. This is part of what God has promised would be the case." What we’re seeing happening today in our culture, our Christian culture, is not catching God off guard. So don’t be surprised. Don’t let it catch you off guard.

The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching. That time is here, and it’s only getting worse. “[They] will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths ” (2 Tim. 4:4). “So expect it,” Paul says.

So what do you do? Stay the course. Keep doing whatever God has called you to do. In my case, keep teaching the Word. Don't get pulled off into all these other things people say you need to be teaching or doing. I'm not saying that it is wrong to adapt how we present the message. But don't change the message. Keep proclaiming it. Keep doing what God has called you to do.

If He has given you four little children, then keep being a mother. Did God give you a husband to live with? To endure that hardship that goes with marriage at times, keep doing what God has called you to do. Endure suffering. Fulfill your ministry. Be faithful all the way to the finish line. Stay the course.

Then quickly, there are two more principles or insights that I see in Second Timothy. This is the fifth of ten. Trust God to deal with those who oppose the truth. Paul says in chapter 2 beginning in verse 23,

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will (vv. 23–26).

Paul says, “Don’t take matters into your own hands. Pray and work for your opponents to be brought to repentance. And remember who the real opponent is. Your enemy is not your teenager. Your enemy, your opponent, your adversary, is not your husband or your boss or somebody who is causing trouble in your community. The devil is. Ask God to deliver your opponents from being caught up, ensnared, by the devil.

And I love the spirit of what Paul says here. He says, “Don’t let hardship turn you into a hard person. Don’t let persecutors turn you into a persecutor. Don’t let argumentative people, even if you live with them in your own home, make you argumentative. Don’t let oppressors turn you into an oppressor. Don’t play their game. Don’t live like them. Trust God to deal with those who oppose the truth.

And then finally, remember times in the past when the Lord has delivered or rescued you. Remember times in the past when the Lord has delivered you.

Paul says in chapter 3, verse 11, he talks about the persecutions and the sufferings that happened to him at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra where he was stoned and left for dead, by the way. These are serious things he’s remembering back on. He says, “Which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.” I’m still alive! Yes, I’m in this prison, this Mamertine prison, one of the worst prisons of its day, but God delivered me out of those persecutions.

Chapter 4, verses 16–17, Paul says, “At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me . . . I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. ” I was rescued from the power of evil, from great danger—even a reference perhaps to Satan himself, that roaring lion. Paul says, “God has delivered me in the past. The implication is God will continue to deliver me. And we’ll come to that in another session.

I was with a Christian leader not too long ago, and we were talking about some of the challenges we were facing in our ministries and some of the uphill battles we were dealing with. And this godly, older man said, “You know, something that has been so helpful to me, Nancy, is when I find myself in these situations, as we all do, it’s to look back and remember times in the past when you thought, I can’t get through this. And look back and see how God did take you through that.”

Look back and remember how God was faithful, how God gave you the grace to endure. Rehearse those times. Review them. Remember them. Call them to mind. It’s one of the great things about journaling. You can go back and remember, “Yes, I was at the end of myself. I was at the end of my rope. I thought I couldn’t go on another day. But look what God did. Look at the Scripture that God brought to my life. Look at the person that God brought to encourage me in that circumstance. Look at how God was faithful in delivering me through that circumstance.

We talk in our ministry about “Red Sea experiences,” when you come right up to the Red Sea and there’s no way out, no way around, no way back; and you cry out to God and God makes a way through the Red Sea. And we remind ourselves, “We’re up against another Red Sea.” Then we look back, and we say, “Look what God has done at the Red Sea in the past. Look at how He has delivered us.”

The children of Israel never forgot—well if they did, they shouldn’t have—what a day, what an experience, what a display of God’s glory. Remember times in the past when the Lord has delivered you. And as you do, God will give you hope that you can endure whatever it is that He’s taking you through today.

Leslie Basham: That's Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. She's been giving us a detailed plan for how we as women can endure when hardship appears.

All of us will face hardship in some form. All of us need wise counsel from God’s Word to prepare for these trials. 

We’re thankful for the way God is using Revive Our Hearts to point women to His Word in the middle of their hardships. So many women write the ministry and explain how God is helping them endure. Here’s Nancy with one of those stories.

Woman: I was living in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria struck the island. A couple of weeks before, I had purchased Nancy’s book, Choosing Gratitude. When the hurricane struck, I wrestled with wanting to read a book on gratitude when I did not feel very thankful for my situation.

Leslie: Despite the devastating losses this woman had just experienced, she decided to give Nancy’s book a try.

Woman: I remember being on my bed without electricity, water, or any means of communication—just with a flashlight reading Choosing Gratitude, crying as I realized how selfish and ungrateful I was. I started to share Bible verses and quotes from the book with those at my workplace and in my community. Their view of things started to change just like mine had. Regardless of our situation we started to be joyful. 

Leslie: We love hearing these kinds of stories! It’s incredible how God uses resources like Nancy’s books and this program, to touch the lives of women we may never meet this side of heaven. Revive Our Hearts is able to provide books and resources—and this program—thanks to individuals who pray for us and support us financially. If you’ve never given to Revive Our Hearts before, would you consider making a gift today? You’ll be joining hundreds of others who believe in the work of this ministry and want to make God known.

As our way of saying “thanks” for your support, we’d love to send you a copy of Suffering Is Never for Nothing. It’s a brand-new book of the teachings of Elisabeth Elliot. To get a copy, make a donation of any amount at ReviveOurHearts.com. Or call 1–800–569–5959 and ask for Suffering Is Never for Nothing.

Please know how grateful we are for your support. It means so much not only to us, but to listeners like that woman in Puerto Rico. She found God’s grace in a difficult season as a result of this ministry.

God doesn’t ask you to endure hardship all on your own. He has given you incredible resources. Find out what they are, tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is helping you find hope in God's Word. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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