Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: When Margaret Ashmore dealt with breast cancer, it helped her understand the gospel better.

Margaret Ashmore: Everything I’m looking for in life, if I’ll endure it, it’s right on the other side of the cross—the strength to live, the power to live, and I believe, too, the power to be closer to the Son.

Leslie Basham: It’s Friday, October 21, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Each of us is going to go through some really hard times. We need the kind of godly counsel on suffering that we heard yesterday. Nancy was with her friends Kim Wagner and Holly Elliff, and they talked with cancer survivor Margaret Ashmore.

Here they are picking up their conversation, part of the series called, Surviving and Thriving Through Suffering.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I hated to drop this conversation yesterday where we finished it because we really weren’t finished. Something was just ringing in my heart as we were talking about enduring for the long haul, living in the light of eternity.

Holly, you reminded us that yes, we need to think about the end, the eternal reward, and what God is doing in us for eternity; but also we need to trust God for light and grace to live in this moment.

I think for so many, including myself, often what pulls us down is thinking, “If this goes on for three more months or three more years or thirty more years, how will I live with it?” Honestly, sometimes I feel that way about Revive Our Hearts.

I think about the next recording session—I’m just being transparent here—and I can get myself in a tizzy. I’ve done it plenty of times, thinking, “How in the world am I ever going to come up with thirty more years of content of what it takes to pull together these programs?”

Well, I don’t have to pull together thirty years of content today or this week. What I do have to do this week is be ready for this week’s recording session. Some people say, “I wish I had such little problems,” because other people are dealing with much more challenging, complex difficulties.

But I think the principle is the same, and that is, God hasn’t given me grace today for where I’ll be walking five years from now or five months from now, or five days from now, for that matter.

Holly, I love the illustration you give. You’ve shared it on Revive Our Hearts, but many have not heard it, about the miner’s cap. That’s just such a great word picture.

Holly Elliff: I actually shared that just in the last couple of days with a lady who was in a tough circumstance who was saying, “I just don’t think I can keep doing this. I don’t have energy. I don’t have strength.”

I shared with her this story about taking my kids into a mine a few years ago, an abandoned mine. They gave us little helmets with little flashlight things (I’m using my hands in the studio; I know you can’t see that) on the top of the helmet that lit just the circle around our feet. As we took each step, we could see for the next one.

I love that, and I relate it to Romans 5 where Christ talks about the grace in which we stand. Especially as a wife and a mother, so much of what we do is maintenance. It’s mundane. It’s stuff we do over and over and over. If I really started calculating how many loads of laundry I will do until I die, it would be so depressing to me.

Nancy: Death by laundry.

Holly: But you really have to just pull those boundaries way back in and say, “God, what have You called me to do this day, this moment, sometimes even this hour?” What the Enemy loves to do, of course, is to take us way beyond the realm of God’s grace so that in our imagination, in our thinking, we are trying to picture ourselves doing this five years from now without the grace of God.

It is overwhelming and it is exhausting. So we have to pull that way back in and say, “God, in this little pool of grace right here, I will stand. I can obey for this moment. I can rejoice, even. I can trust You for this moment in my life.”

Nancy: I think that’s a huge key to endurance. When we think of endurance, we think of cross country running or long mountain climbing or whatever. It just seems that endurance by its nature is long; and focusing on the long part of it rather than the present moment is often what tempts me to throw in the towel and keeps me from finding endurance.

I think of the title one author had for his book, It’s a Long Obedience in the Same Direction. So for the single mom who’s thinking, “How in the world am I going to keep putting food on the table for my kids?” or “How am I going to put up with this husband who is continuing to be deceptive?” . . . and the implications of his deception are—you think about them long range, and it’s mind-boggling. Then you’ve gotten yourself into such a mental and emotional and spiritual tailspin, you can’t take the next step.

Really, endurance becomes the cumulative steps of faith and obedience in the little bit of light I have for the moment. If I could see the whole road that lies ahead, I’d probably say, “I’m out of this race!”

Holly: We went through kind of interesting moment a couple of months ago with my oldest daughter who has waited for years to be able to have a child. They finally got pregnant after four-and-a-half years of no birth control, waiting on the Lord and desiring a child.

About a month into her pregnancy, she started hemorrhaging. It looked like she was losing the baby. As Billy and I were sitting in the emergency room with them waiting to hear if the baby was still alive or not, I looked at Billy and said, “This is just the first pregnancy of our first child.”

It just got exhausting to me, thinking about all the potential emergencies that could happen with my eight children and their future spouses and all the future grandchildren.

Nancy: And your youngest is what, ten or something?

Holly: My youngest is nine currently.

Nancy: And you’re now living fifty years ahead.

Holly: I just realized I am doing exactly what I preach to women all the time, “Don’t do that.” I had to pull those boundaries way back in and say, “God, I thank You that You have grace for this moment. And when I’m on grandchild 32 (or whatever it ends up being), You will have grace for that as well.”

Now, the baby was fine, and Jennifer is doing great, and we were so grateful for that. But if we get ahead of God’s grace, we will be exhausted.

Nancy: Another tendency I think we often have is to try to escape from the process. It’s a temptation to manipulate, to connive, to scheme, to resent or resist or buck against or say, “I’m getting myself out of this.” But if we do, we really miss the value of why God put us in that space in the first place.

Margaret Ashmore: In James 1:2-4 we read, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect [or mature] and complete, lacking in nothing” (NASB).

I am reminiscent about a true story about a man who was a scientist and who found the cocoon of what is called the mammoth moth. This is the moth with the greatest wingspread, and it’s the one that is said to be able to fly closest to the sun.

He was fascinated that he had made this great find, and he brought the cocoon into his office and watched it struggle day after day after day. I mean, just a tiny little opening would come up in the cocoon, and he would watch this little creature writhe and struggle. He began to feel sorry for it. He took a little blade and cut a slit into the cocoon, and the mammoth moth just literally fell out and died.

What he read afterward is that the struggle is what produced the strength, the endurance. It took the moisture off its wings so it could fly. It is literally what would have made it fly closest to the sun.

We Christians stay very earthbound because we don’t endure, and we don’t fly close to the sun because we’re always looking for a way of escape. We don’t want to hurt. We don’t want to be uncomfortable. We don’t want problems.

I always think of that passage in Hebrews where we read that “for the joy set before our Lord, He endured the cross, thinking lightly of the shame” (Heb. 12:2 paraphrased). I think that’s our example. We understand that the cross is literally the gateway to joy.

Everything I’m looking for in life, if I’ll endure it, it’s right on the other side of the cross—the strength to live, the power to live, and I believe, too, the power to be closer to the sun.

Nancy: That scientist thought he was doing that moth a favor by slitting its cocoon. How often do we think we’re doing a favor to someone we love by slitting their cocoon and trying to make their struggle easier? How many moms are tempted to do that for their children, or wives for their husbands, to say, “I don’t want to see them struggle”?

Holly: . . . or suffer?

Nancy: Or suffer. The caution is about not rescuing those that we love from the cross, but realizing that they need those lessons of endurance in the same way we do.

Margaret: We’re doing wholesale disservice to the people of God. The most scathing rebuke in the entire New Testament was when Peter said, "Lord, forbid that You go to the cross!" And Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matt. 16:22-23 paraphrased). It’s literally Satan talking when we are bid, “Don’t go to the cross. Don’t suffer. Don’t hurt. Go around it.”

Today Christians wear crosses. We put them on bumper stickers. We put them on refrigerator magnets. But we don’t get on it.

God says if you will die to yourself, and if you will take your sins to the cross, if you will endure through the hard times, right on the other side of that cross is everything that you’re looking for.

Nancy: Not only do we need to experience that, but those we love need to experience that. Holly and Kim, do you ever find yourself tempted to rescue your children from what it takes for them to learn endurance?

Kim: We don’t want our children to go through pain. I guess I’ve learned so much as I walk through the consequences of my own wrongs that I want my children to learn the consequences now while they are small rather than when they’re big.

I’ve counseled many women in our church that have had children with some very difficult situations, some with children in prison or with great addictions, “Do not rescue your child. Let them go through that consequence, or you’ll have to be rescuing them over and over and over again.”

A lot of times they’ve reached that point because they were rescued at a younger age from smaller consequences that they could have walked through, that they didn’t endure through.

Holly: I do think it’s really important to teach our children to accept responsibility for their own actions, and not to necessarily let them off the hook when they have made a wrong choice; teaching them to realize that every time they make a choice, it will determine where they go next on the board game (to use that metaphor)—it will have a consequence in their life.

I have one child who was looking for a summer job but wanted to kind of take a vacation right when school was over, and as a result has had to look twice as hard for a summer job because of waiting and wanting to play.

I think in our society there is a huge tendency to want to play as a means of escape. I am all for fun. I love having fun. But there is a balance there between the disciplines of life that teach us how to walk and endure, and enjoying the things that God has given us.

I think as a society, if we’re not careful, we run from the disciplines of life that help us to endure. Then when we get in a tough place, we don’t know what to do.

Nancy: So Holly and Kim, when you had little ones and it seemed that the days were all very much the same and endurance was required—when you’re not getting full nights of sleep and you’re thinking, “Will I ever sleep again?” What were the things (because we have a lot of young moms listening) that helped you to endure through that season of life?

Kim: I can remember being at a point of such total exhaustion that I literally was falling asleep eating my supper after taking care of children all day, just so exhausted and thinking, “So this is what my life is going to be the rest of my life?” This past week I was reminded of those days of young motherhood and struggling and feeling like, “Will this ever end?" or "Will things ever get any better?”

Nancy: Or, “Can I get through this?”

Kim: Can I get through this? I have a dear friend who is a new mother of twins. They’re nine months old this past week. Her husband was going to be out of town at a conference. On Tuesday morning she called me and said, “Claire is throwing up, and now I’m getting sick. Parker is throwing up.”

I said, “I’ll be right over.” I vividly remember being so sick and my two children being sick and my husband being out of town. A dear friend came over to nurse me, to care for me, to be there for me, and I knew I wouldn’t have made it through that week without her.

I think we as the Body need to surround one another, encourage those young mothers, let them know. Now that I have the opportunity to be the one to go and help care for that young mother, I can say, “They’re going to be grown before you know it.”

Nancy: You’re illustrating, too, what we’ve seen in 2 Timothy. The apostle Paul saying to Timothy, “I need you. Come quickly” (2 Tim. 4:9 paraphrase).

You know, you’d say somebody who is as spiritually mature as the apostle Paul should be able to make it without somebody else helping him out. But he’s saying, “I need God’s people.”

We’ve talked in this series about how we need others in the Body of Christ and how we can be a resource to help each other endure so that we’re not having to endure alone.

Now, God did take Paul through moments when he didn’t have anyone else, where all deserted him; and then he says, “The Lord stood by me and strengthened me” (2 Tim. 4:16-17). But at the same time, in his humanness he said, “I need help.”

We also need to be sensitive, as you were, to say, “I’ve been there. I can remember what that was like. So now it’s my season of life to be the giver, as someone else gave to me in my time of great need.”

Holly: I would say to those young moms, too: Number one, take advantage of what God has given you in the Body of Christ, as Kim just said. Number two, don’t get so physically exhausted that you cannot function and take care of your family.

It is possible to get so tired—motherhood is exhausting; and if God gives you several children, it is really exhausting. You can literally get so physically tired that you cannot do what God has called you to do. So I think it’s important to take care of yourself.

Nancy: So how do you do that, mother of many? How many hours a night did you sleep when all your kids were little?

Holly: I still don’t sleep much, but I do think you have to be creative. There were times when Billy and I would trade off. There were days when he would walk in the door and I would say, “I’m headed to Wal-Mart,” and he’d say, “Why?” and I’d say, “It doesn’t matter.”

I told a young mom today, “You need to have some moments in your day when you just step outside your door and look up and remember that God is still there and that He is still big.” Because sometimes you get so caught in the “everydayness” and pressures on your life—of someone always needing something from you—that you need to be reminded that God is still sufficient.

I think the biggest danger is a mom getting so weary that she cannot find time for God, and all of a sudden she is so depleted she has nothing to give her husband, she has nothing to give her children. It is critical to find time with the Lord, even if that means stepping out on your back porch with your Bible for five minutes, and maybe you read one or two verses and then ask God to apply those to your heart.

But it means that at some moment in your day you’re stopping and redirecting your focus to the One who can help you endure, and just being wise enough to know, “If I don’t ever sleep and I don’t ever eat, I cannot take care of my family.”

Kim: And if I don’t ever find five minutes with God . . . I think that is, for young mothers, the biggest challenge. I’ve had young mothers tell me, “I was faithful in my quiet time until the baby came along, or until the late night feedings.”

What I try to encourage them in is, don’t try to do your quiet time like you used to. You may have had thirty minutes. You may have been able to write in a journal.

But just take an allotted five minutes, ten minutes, to focus on what you know about God, to worship Him in that, to take one verse and carry it with you all throughout the day in your heart and in your mind; have that with you.

Nancy: As we’ve been talking about endurance, I know there are women in a lot of different situations of life. We have focused here some on young moms, but there’s a passage that comes to mind from the end of Hebrews chapter 10.

The author says, “But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened,” after you came to faith, “you endured a hard struggle” (if it’s not a hard struggle, it doesn’t take endurance!) “with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.” Sometimes it affected you directly; sometimes it affected the ones you loved and were close to.

“For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of property,” (imagine doing that joyfully!) “since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” That goes back to the whole view of eternity that we talked about.

“Therefore,” he says, “do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.” If I could say that in the vernacular, it would be, “Don’t throw in the towel.” “Do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance.” In my Bible I have that triple underlined.

“You have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, ‘Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back [if he doesn’t endure], my soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (vv. 32-39).

He said, you have need of endurance, and that’s why you go through these struggles and these trials and these sufferings. But the fact that you endure, he says, is an evidence that you are a child of God. He preserves His saints. He will preserve you in this trial. He will preserve me in this season of life. And what He’s doing through that is something I have need of. That’s why He says you can accept it joyfully, because you know that it has an enduring reward.

Leslie Basham: We’ve been getting some wise counsel on enduring difficulty. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with some pastors’ wives, Holly Elliff and Kim Wagner, along with Margaret Ashmore, a breast cancer survivor. She’s been an inspiration all this week for anyone suffering physical or emotional pain.

If you’ve missed any of the programs this week, you can order them on CD. We had to trim the interview between Nancy, Holly, Kim, and Margaret in order to fit within our allotted time on the radio, but you can hear more on CD. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com and order the CD series Surviving and Thriving Through Suffering.

I have no doubt that many needed to hear today's message on Revive Our Hearts. Nancy gets emails and letters that tell her how timely the message often is.

Nancy: God's called me to teach His Word, and that's what we focus on here at Revive Our Hearts. But sometimes men write in to tell us they are listening in as well. One man emailed after hearing a message on brokenness.

He said, "I was deeply touched by your radio program this morning. I am a very, very proud man, and my marriage of almost seven years is in trouble." He told us that God had used that particular program to motivate him to get help. That very day he reached out to some men to get their counsel.

I love the way God uses specific programs to reach out to specific listeners just when they need to hear a particular message. Would you consider being a part of that process? When you support Revive Our Hearts financially, you're making moments like these possible. Would you ask the Lord how He might have you to be involved in the ministry of Revive Our Hearts?

When you make a donation of any amount today, we'll send you the 2012 Revive Our Hearts wall calendar. This year's theme is: Seeking Him Together. A lot of our listeners tell us that they really look forward to getting this calendar each year because of its beautiful design, and even more importantly, its rich content. You'll find that this year's calendar is no exception. Each month will focus on a different theme related to seeking the Lord for personal revival.

This calendar is our way of saying, "thank you" when you support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Just ask for the 2012 wall calendar when you donate any amount.

Leslie: Donate by phone when you call 800-569-5959, or contribute online ReviveOurHearts.com.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss received an unexpected letter that threw her into a tailspin. She turned to a passage of Scripture that spoke to her heart. She'll walk you through that passage and show you how to stabilize your heart when you are in an emotional freefall. that's Monday on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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

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