Lies Women Believe About Circumstances

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says when you know God, you don’t have to face any difficulty alone.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: You can try, and God may let you try to handle it on your own. But part of what He is doing with trials and afflictions is He’s trying to strip us of self-reliance and make us utterly dependent upon Him and His grace.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for Thursday, February 22, 2018.

This week Nancy’s book, Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, was released. Now, this book’s been out for over a decade with a million copies sold, but Nancy expanded and revised the book with about 30 percent new content that reflects lies that tempt us here in 2018.

This week we’re going through some of the concepts in the book. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Well, a woman came to me in the break just before this session, and she showed me a text she just got on her phone from a woman in her church who has been in a Lies Women Believe study they’ve been doing there.

This friend texted the lady here at the recording, and she said I could share this with you—just an illustration of how God uses His truth. This is from the original Lies Women Believe book, outdated, old, but God still uses it because truth is timeless. Right? And this woman said to the woman in the room:

Thank you for doing Nancy’s study with the ladies. This has been another step God has for me to come closer to Him. It has been a piece of the puzzle to help me heal. I never resolved losing my father twelve years ago. I never allowed my step-dad to take my dad’s place in my heart. Mom lost a baby before I was born and never had the emotions to support me. My support came from my dad. Through God’s grace and a series of God-orchestrated events, I’m now trying very hard to give this step-dad the place in my heart and life God meant for him to have. I want to encourage you and thank you for impacting my life through this study.

Now, I don’t know what all the circumstances were surrounding that story. It sounds like a lot of us: confusion, circumstances that conspire to make life difficult. We’re going to talk about that today and how the truth can set us free in relation to our circumstances, whatever they may be.

If you don’t have some hard circumstances right now, hold on. You will. In my experience, you’ve either just been through a storm, or you’re going through one now, or you’ve got one coming up. So when we talk about lies we believe about our circumstances and the truth that sets us free, that’s something all of us need to pay attention to.

A couple days ago I received an email from one of our staff, whose wife has had long, hard battle with leukemia over the past year. He said:

Tomorrow, I'll be driving Nikki to UC Davis in Sacramento for her one-year bone marrow biopsy. This is perhaps the most significant biopsy in our cancer journey thus far. Would you pray with us tomorrow and over the next few days while we wait for results? Please pray for peace in our hearts and minds, that we would not be anxious or fearful. 

Aren’t you so glad we don’t have to bear these burdens alone, that we can share them with others? Our whole team was able to read that and is praying for Nikki and Justin. And then, I think of that old song, “There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus, no, not one.” When there’s nobody to tell our burdens or our struggles to, He knows, and He cares.

Well, I assured Justin, after getting that email, that Robert and I would be praying for them. And then I sent him this quote by Susannah Spurgeon, wife of the great nineteenth century British preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Here’s what Susannah said:

As a physician keeps his finger on a suffering patient’s pulse, that he may know just the limit to which pain may be safely endured, so does our God hold our right hand while we are passing through the furnaces of trial that lie on our road to heaven, that He may support us through them and bring us forth in due time to praise Him for His comforting and sustaining grace.

The salt drops that steal down our cheeks through physical suffering, wrung from our eyes by mortal pain and weakness, are all seen by our loving Lord; they are put into His bottle. His purpose concerning them shall be manifest when their mission is accomplished, [God doesn’t always show us His purposes right now, but she’s saying one day, when these sufferings have accomplished their mission, God will show us what that mission was] and then the source from whence these sorrows sprang shall be forever dried up. God shall wipe all tears from their eyes.

Oh, how small and light our greatest griefs and losses and afflictions seem when illumined by the bright beams of the glory-land. [Looking toward heaven is one of the things that kept these sisters in the faith enduring life here in this shadowed, dark earth.] Away up there, [in the glory-land] where we are soon going, there are no clouds, no darkness, no nights of pain, no days of sorrow; and it is after all but a thin, dark veil that separates us from that "beautiful home on high." So cheer up your heart, poor, timid child of God. You may not be able to see your way on earth, but turn your eyes to heaven, and gaze long and lovingly there. You do not need to see the path down below, because He has said He will guide you, and you know the darkness and light are both alike to Him. Put your hand in His and trust Him, for "by His light you shall walk through darkness.

Aren’t those great images to help us? You don’t have to see the path down here. You say, “I can’t see where this is all going. I’m so confused. I don’t know where God’s leading me.”

You don’t have to know where. He sees it all. It’s not dark to Him. You keep your eyes on what lies ahead, on the promises of God, the heaven He’s promised to us, where there will be no more pain or sorrow or suffering. You keep your eyes on that light and let God keep His eyes on the path here. You keep your hand in His, and you’ll be all right.

The shortness of the saints’ affliction is matter of great consolation; it is but for a moment. [You say, “My affliction feels like it’s a lot longer than a moment.”] A moment is but a short space—the smallest division of time—and unto a moment are our longest afflictions compared. [She’s talking about a passage in 2 Corinthians, chapter 4, that we’ll read in just a few moments, where Paul likens our afflictions to a short moment, a momentary affliction.] Supposed they should last as long as we are in this world. Even our whole life if compared with a vast eternity is but like a moment. . . . And what matter of comfort is it that while our short-lived afflictions last, Christ will be with us in them! . . . His presence with us in affliction will make it light (Anne Dutton).

It doesn’t seem light. It doesn’t seem momentary, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4, but she said if Jesus is with you, that makes it light. If you have an eternity with Him, that means that even if your affliction lasts your whole life long here on this earth, it still is, in fact, a moment.

Anne said:

Sorrows will not hold us a moment beyond the appointed time, [Whose appointed time? God’s.] nor will they exceed their appointed degree. [Whose appointed degree? God’s.] Soon our momentary light cross will be turned into a weighty eternal crown.

These are the truths that can set us free from anxiety, depression, fear, oppression. Now, that doesn’t mean we won’t ever be sad or sorrowful. We will be here on this earth. But they give us perspective in the midst of our sorrow.

Here’s another woman: Susan Huntington. She’s quotes extensively in this book, Seasons of the Heart. She lived between these first two women, Mrs. Spurgeon and Ann Dutton. She lived in New England. And Susan Huntington suffered great physical affliction throughout her short life. She lived only to the age of thirty-three.

When she was in her mid-twenties, she lost both of her parents within a few months of each other. Two years later, when she was eight months pregnant, her husband died, and less than three years later, two of her children died. Now, that’s a lot of suffering in a short span of time, but here’s what Susan Huntington had to say:

It is a great dishonor to our compassionate God to doubt whether He will sustain us in our extremity or fear that He will lay more upon us than He will enable us to bear. No, no—it cannot be. [What cannot be? That God will lay more on us that He will give us grace to bear.] Only let us entrust ourselves and all our interests unreservedly to Him who loved us unto death, and we must be safe.

Well, Susan Huntington died at thirty-three from a painful illness. And as she reflected on her short, hard life, here’s what she said, "My path has been rough." God’s not asking us to pretend like these problems don’t exist, to run from reality. He’s saying problems do exist. This is a broken, fallen world. 

My path has been rough; but I have not had one trial which my heavenly Father could, in faithfulness, have spared me. He has dealt with me only in loving-kindness and tender mercy. I have not a doubt now, I shall see hereafter, that all His dealings with me have been for my good.

She’s saying, “I can’t see all the reasons now, but I’m confident that when I’m with Him (which was just around the corner), I will see that every trial He has brought into my life was for my good and was absolutely necessary.”

Let me introduce you to another woman. Her name is Mary Winslow. She lived from the mid-1700s to the mid-1800s. She was born and raised in Bermuda and later moved to England with her husband. When she was thirty-nine, her family had a financial reversal, and she and her ten children by that time immigrated from England to New York.

Her husband planned to follow once she and the kids got settled, but soon after their arrival, Mary’s youngest child, her only daughter, died. Before she could bury the infant, she received word that her husband back in England had also died. So now Mary Winslow was left widowed, grieving, and responsible for the care of her nine young sons.

For months, she struggled with loneliness, discouragement, and anxiety. How would she ever be able to make ends meet? And there are women listening to the sound of my voice today who are asking these kinds of questions. Maybe the details of your story are a little different but, for you, they are just as real. They are more real. And you’re wondering: How am I ever going to make it? How am I going to feed these kids? How am I going to get through this?

At a particularly desperate point, overwhelmed with a sense of weakness and inadequacy, Mary Winslow cast herself upon the Lord and received assurance that He would be a Father to her fatherless children. She said of that moment:

I felt God was with me, and my soul was filled with joy and holy reverence.

As she looked back on the grace that she had experienced in her affliction, here’s what she said:

How unspeakably precious and sweet it is when we can believe that God our Father in heaven is absolutely directing the most minute circumstances of our short sojourn in this wilderness world! That nothing, however trivial, takes place, whether it relates to the body or the soul, but is under His control—in fact, is ordered by Himself!

But how hard it is to believe this, particularly when things look dark and we cannot discern the way we should take. It is, then, the providence of faith to wait upon the Lord, keeping a steadfast eye upon Him only, looking for light, help, and deliverance not from the creature, but from Jehovah Himself.

A little while [And that’s, by the way, one of the common themes of these women—that they saw that this life is short, these trials, therefore, are momentary. It may be another twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years, but she said, little while] and we will be put in possession of our glorious inheritance, and all our poor, short-lived trials, crosses, and disappointments are so many rich blessings in disguise to prepare us for it.

You see, those hardships, those crosses, those trials, they’re blessings in disguise, she said, to prepare us for that ultimate glorious inheritance that we will experience a short while from now.

Well, just one other woman. Her name was Sarah Hawkes. She was British. She lived in the late1700s, early 1800s. She had many physical diseases. She suffered greatly for many years and died a painful death.

We have a lot of physical suffering today, but I think we take for granted sometimes how blessed we are to have so many medical advances that spare us from some of this just sheer, physical agony and anguish that so many people experienced in greater measure in the past. And she was one of these. She died a painful death. But she said:

One thing you must constantly bear in mind, or you will faint [You’ll give up. You’ll lose heart.] in the day of adversity: [What’s that one thing?] namely, that you are not called to undertake one single difficulty in your own strength.

You don’t have to do it alone. You can try. And God may let you try to handle it on your own. But part of what He is doing with trials and afflictions—it may be physical, it may be many different areas of our lives, maybe little things, maybe big things—He’s trying to strip us of self-reliance and make us utterly dependent upon Him and His grace. You must constantly bear this in mind or you’re going to lose heart when you’re finding yourself facing adversity. You are not called to undertake one single difficulty in your own strength.

Let me go back to that passage in 2 Corinthians 4 that many of these women referenced. Beginning in verse 16, Paul the apostle who experienced great physical affliction and suffering and trials, many of them related to the proclamation of the gospel. He said,

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self [this physical body] is wasting away . . . 

And that’s true of all of us, by the way. If you’ve been born, you’ve started wasting away. Some of us have been around long enough, we’re more aware of how our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed, replenished, rejuvenated, restored, revived. 

. . . our inner self is being renewed day by day. [At the same time that physically and in other ways we’re being bombarded by problems and pressures and trials.) For this light momentary affliction . . .

That’s what he calls it—light momentary affliction. You know, when we’re going through something really hard, we need to look at ourselves in the mirror and say, “This is a light momentary affliction.” Say it with me: This is a light momentary affliction. You don’t look like you really are convinced of that. (laughter.) Can you say it a little more emphatically? This is a light momentary affliction. He goes on to say,

This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen [the problems, the trials, the pressures] but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, [they’re passing away; they won’t last] but the things that are unseen are eternal (vv. 16–18).

And so, what’s the truth that sets us free in the midst of painful circumstances, affliction, adversity?

Our afflictions here on earth are momentary; they’re light in the big scheme of things. And our Father determines the duration of our suffering. It will not last forever. If it lasts for a lifetime, it will not last forever.

Suffering can produce sweet fruit in the life of a believer and prepare us, fit us, equip us for eternity. And that God will never, ever abandon His children. He will be with us in each hardship, each trial that we face. And the truth is that the joy that awaits us in heaven will be worth every moment of affliction that we have ever experienced here in this life.

Well, this truth is so powerful, and that’s why I want to encourage you to get a copy and read the new, updated, expanded Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. Read some more from some of these women in the new version of Lies Women Believe.

We’re making that available as our way of saying “thank you” this week to anyone who contacts us and says, “I want to make a donation of any amount to the work, the ministry of Revive Our Hearts so women can be helped to find the presence and the peace and the power of Christ in the midst of their suffering.”

And when you make a contribution to this ministry of any size, our way of saying “thank you” will be to send you a copy of this new version of Lies Women Believe. You can go to ReviveOurHearts.com to make your gift, or you can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959, and be sure that you request your copy of Lies Women Believe when you do.

Thank You, Lord, for these amazing words of encouragement from women who suffered, some of them more than many of us in this room. But all of us have things that are hard, difficult, challenging, things that bring tears to our eyes, things that cause us to be tempted to doubt You and Your goodness and Your presence.

Help us to counsel our hearts according to the truth, to take heart, to be of good courage, to persevere, to endure, knowing that these momentary, light afflictions will give way to an eternal weight of glory—sooner than we can possibly imagine.

Help us to be faithful, and may our lives show to those around us that we trust, we lean on, we lean hard on an everlasting God who does not faint, does not grow weary, and who is working all things in this world according to His good purposes. And for this we give You thanks, oh, faithful God, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Tomorrow, Nancy will wrap up this series on “Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free.” Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to prepare you for any circumstance. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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