Joni and Friends Blog
No Stranger to Suffering
I first experienced Elisabeth Elliot’s writing in 1965 when I was in high school and read her book Through the Gates of Splendor. I had no idea that after graduation, during the recovery from my diving accident, I would experience those same dark valleys about which she wrote.
When I finally met Elisabeth nearly a decade into my quadriplegia, I could hardly believe I was sharing the same space with this saint I so dearly looked up to! We opened our hearts to one another, sharing how God remained faithful through so much suffering and agreeing that no one participates in God’s joy without first tasting the afflictions of His Son. But one statement from Elisabeth has stayed in my heart for all these many years… she departed our meeting saying, “Suffering is not for nothing, Joni.” In that moment, I was sure I knew what she meant... After all, nine years of quadriplegia had refined my faith and made me take seriously the lordship of Christ in my life.
I had no idea that after graduation, during the recovery from my diving accident, I would experience those same dark valleys about which [Elisabeth Elliot] wrote.
Elisabeth Elliot then turned into a mentor figure for me. As I pursued my own writing career, she encouraged me to dig into the deeper parts of suffering, the parts beyond its theological background and benefits. She knew that true maturity, joy, and contentment had less to do with a mechanistic assessment of God’s plan and more to do with being pushed, and at times even shoved against the breast of my Savior. This truth has guided me through more of fifty years of paralysis, chronic pain, and two bouts with cancer: The Bible’s answers are never to be separated from the God of the Bible.
“Suffering is not for nothing, Joni.” In that moment, I was sure I knew what she meant...
In Elisabeth’s new book, Suffering Is Never for Nothing, you’ll find a collection of her previously unpublished ponderings and writings from which you will be nourished! She’ll help you see that we are on a fierce battlefield. And although she is now in heaven, her writing can spur you on in battle and show how your suffering is never for nothing. Today, be encouraged to press in and embrace the Lord in Jesus in the midst of your pain, affliction, and disappointment.
Hard times come for all in life, with no real explanation. When we walk through suffering, it has the potential to devastate and destroy, or to be the gateway to gratitude and joy. Elisabeth Elliot was no stranger to suffering. It was in her deepest suffering that she learned the deepest lessons about God.