True Woman Summer Book Club 2019: Week 3

Thank you for joining us for week three of our True Woman Summer Book Club! If this is your first week with us, head over to our store to pick up a copy of Elisabeth Elliot’s Suffering Is Never for Nothing, and check out the posts for week 1 and week 2 to download the other discussion guides. Happy reading!

Suffering Is Never for Nothing, Chapter 3: Acceptance

Memory Verse: Isaiah 50:7

But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.

Devotional Thought:

I’ve read this book through several times now, and each time, different details strike me. As I was reading the story of Lars’ and Elisabeth’s cancelled flight, I realized something: they didn’t have a cell phone. This may seem like a silly thing to notice. It stood out to me because Elisabeth’s first instinct wasn’t to solve the situation by calling someone or to assuage the fears of those waiting for her by sending a quick text. No. Instead, her first move was to pray, “You’re going to have to take care of those poor people at the other end that thought I was coming to speak on this particular day.” 

In a moment when things changed unexpectedly and she could have panicked because plans changed, Elisabeth Elliot lifted her eyes to the Lord. This is a habit she had cultivated, and so it was her first instinct.

Since the time I entered high school, I can hardly remember a time when a phone wasn’t as accessible as my purse or pocket. (Perhaps I’m showing my age!) Picking up that device to Google an answer to a question, text a friend when I’m late, or simply stave off boredom—especially when stress or suffering hits—often seems much more second nature than calling on the Lord who is near. In the moments when I was without phone service, such as a season of ministry in a rural area and a college trip to China, it was much easier to cultivate intimacy with the Lord and use my time well. Even knowing this, I still catch myself interrupting times of prayer and Bible reading to do homage to my phone idol instead. Or I forget to do a necessary task at home because I’m scrolling through articles online instead. (Insert facepalm emoji here.)

If any of this describes you, or if you tend to find other ways to distract yourself, let’s follow Elisabeth Elliot’s example from this chapter. Let’s do something different than our instincts. When suffering comes, let’s accept it, pray, and then “do the next thing.”

Let’s not ask strangers on the Internet for potential answers to our problems ad infinitum. Let’s not numb out with social media or phone games when the going gets tough. Let’s not text or call our friends immediately when trouble strikes. Let’s not binge on Netflix or YouTube to avoid our problems. (And let’s not just give up because we’re “done.”)

Instead, let’s lift our eyes to the Lord and just do the next thing He’s given us to do. Perhaps that is doing laundry or making the bed. Or maybe it is getting online to research or picking up the phone to call a friend for help. The point is that whatever is in front of us, we need wisdom to do the right things and courage to do the next thing, and to gain that wisdom and courage, we need to seek the Lord. 

At the encouragement of my pastor, a friend and I have taken the Lord’s command to Zerubbabel and Joshua in Haggai 2:4 as our motto: “Work, for I am with you.” (I think Elisabeth would approve.) We’re trying to turn our eyes off our circumstances and look to Him . . . and then do what needs to be done—from writing this post to cleaning house to dyeing fabric to making dessert to going for a walk. It’s all good work, and it’s all the right work. 

So, friends, will you join in? God is with us. Let’s look to Him for help and grace in our suffering and get to work. There’s plenty to do.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What do you think about this quote? “I need pain sometimes because God has something bigger in mind. It is never for nothing” (p. 54). Do you agree that pain is sometimes necessary? Why or why not?
  2. Elisabeth gave delivering and raising a baby as an example of love being “bound with sacrifice” (pp. 41–42). Give your own example. What beautiful gifts in your life have come through sacrifice?
  3. After listing some truths that are in her church’s creed, Elisabeth said this: “Every time things have seemingly fallen apart in my life, I have gone back to those things that do not change” (p. 43). Share anything that you recite or remember when things are hard.
  4. What makes it difficult to accept suffering as part of “God’s cup of salvation” (p. 54)? What reasons, either from this chapter or from Scripture, do we have to trust God in “offering” us the cup?
  5. Paul, Joseph, and Jesus are listed as examples of people whose suffering was not taken away after they prayed, because “far greater things are at stake” (pp. 52–53). When has God answered your prayers differently than you had hoped? Share any hints you’ve seen of God’s purposes behind His answer.
  6. Consider the quote: “Do the next thing” (p. 45). What next thing is God calling you to do right now? Take time to pray for each group member, their situation, and their “next thing.”

(Download a PDF of these questions here.)

Resources for This Chapter:

Giveaway: 

We’re giving away a copy Elisabeth Elliot’s Through Gates of Splendor this week! This book is the account of five missionaries (including Elisabeth’s first husband, Jim) who were martyred in Ecuador. They provide a solid example of trusting God and doing the next right thing. If you haven’t read this book yet, you’re missing out on a Christian classic. For your chance to win, enter the giveaway below and answer this question in the comments: what is the “next thing” God is calling you to do today?

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About the Author

Hayley Mullins

Hayley Mullins

Hayley Mullins is the managing editor at Revive Our Hearts. She is passionate about encouraging grace-filled, honest community in the Church. When she’s not writing, you can find Hayley chasing adventures in libraries, on hiking trails, and through deep conversations.

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