True Woman Summer Book Club 2019: Week 5

We are on chapter five of Suffering Is Never for Nothing by Elisabeth Elliot—and week five of our summer book club! If you’ve missed any of the previous weeks, there are links in the “related posts” section at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!

Memory Verse: Romans 12:1

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Devotional Thought:

I’ve got nothing to offer. Have you ever thought this? I know I have. 

In a sense it’s true. In ourselves, we do have nothing to offer. Paul talks about this:

Consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God (1 Cor. 1:26–29).

God is very intentional in displaying His glory through the broken and lavishing His love on the unlovable. That’s us. Not much to boost the ego here. 

As Paul did, we could probably make a list of why God shouldn’t choose us. We could fixate on and scrutinize our imperfections and our inability to offer God anything with all our energy—and likely get downright depressed. All of us from time to time need a dose of humility, so sometimes it’s worth it to remember where God found us (check out Ephesians 2 for more insights about this). We don’t need to stay there, though! It’s not the whole picture. Keep reading the end of Paul’s thought.

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:30–31).

That’s where we have grounds for boasting—in our precious Jesus, who is everything we lack and provides everything we need! By His grace we’re not just that list of imperfections; we’ve been united to Christ. We’ve encountered His Word and been made new creations. We’re standing before God with His perfect record. We’re holy and set apart as His own. We’ve been bought back from death’s auction block by His blood. And because of all that, even where we’re lacking, we have material for sacrifice, because His strength is perfected in our weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:9). 

In this week’s chapter, Elisabeth reminded us of the widow of Zarephath (pp. 81–82). This woman was a single mom who had no protector or provider in a society where women were often vulnerable. She lived below the poverty line and was facing starvation. She was on her last handful of flour and drops of oil, and she was getting ready to make her and her son’s last meal. And God asked her to sacrifice the last valuable thing she had—food for her son—to feed the prophet Elijah (this account is in 1 Kings 17). Looking at it from a normal human point of view, she had nothing to offer. She was certainly weak, low, and despised. 

But God said, “You have something to offer.” She obeyed. She sacrificed. And she was provided for. 

And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty (vv. 15–16).

Out of “nothing to offer,” God worked a miracle—just like the little boy’s lunch that Jesus used to feed thousands. 

So, what do you have to offer? Even if you don’t have material goods, you have something to sacrifice: yourself. Romans 12:1, our memory verse for this week, gives us that hope: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Who we are and what we have is acceptable to God for His use. 

He has redeemed us—the parts of us that others would despise, our weaknesses, our past, our suffering, and our limited resources—and He has made us useful. He has made us worthy. He has opened the door so we can honor Him through sacrifice. What grace!

Discussion Questions:

  1. Elisabeth gave the example of her nephew, the concert violinist, as someone who uses his gift for the good of the world (p. 75). Who is someone you know that blesses you or others? Share how you see God using that person’s gifts.
  2. Has there been anything difficult in your life that you’ve seen God use for the good of others and for His glory? If you’re able to, tell the group about it. 
  3. Are tempted to envy others’ gifts? Discuss this—and practical ways you can celebrate the gifts of others in your church, family, or community.
  4. This chapter spends a good amount of time talking about how we all experience loneliness, whether married or single (pp. 83–84). Share about your experience of loneliness, whether past or present, and any insights you’ve learned about offering that loneliness to God. 
  5. “If my life is broken when given to Jesus, it may be because pieces will feed a multitude when a loaf would satisfy only a little boy” (p. 85). Share some of the “pieces” of your life that you can offer to Jesus, how you think He could “feed” others with them, and any inadequacy or fears you’re experiencing related to this. 
  6. “Who are the people who have most profoundly influenced your life?” (p. 87). How did God use their experiences to impact you?

(Click here to download this discussion guide as a PDF.)

Resources for This Chapter:

Giveaway: 

This week’s chapter mentioned Joni Eareckson Tada, a woman who serves as a faithful example of offering herself and her suffering to God to be used. She leads Joni and Friends, an international ministry focusing on disabilities, authors beautiful books on suffering, and speaks words of hope around the world—all while personally experiencing the daily realities of quadriplegia and chronic pain. (She also wrote the foreword of our book.) I’d like you to have the opportunity to hear from her personally . . . so we’re giving away a copy of Joni’s autobiography

For a chance to win, enter the giveaway after answering this week’s question in the comment section: What are some of the “pieces” of your life that you can offer to Jesus?

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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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