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Enduring Suffering

Lisa Barry: Am I talking to anyone today who is wounded and bruised because of an ongoing dispute with someone else? It might be a family member, or co-worker, a friend or church member. What began as just a difference of opinion a few years ago, has escalated into an emotional bludgeoning that rips into the soul. Today on Gateway To Joy, Elisabeth Elliot is going to offer the advice of a friend on how to deal with a painful rift in a relationship. It?s a practical response to another one of those unavoidable uncertainties that we all encounter in life. So bring your wounds and your weapons and lay them down as we embark on this Tuesday edition of Gateway To Joy.

Elisabeth Elliot: "You are loved with an everlasting love." That?s what the Bible says. "And underneath are the everlasting arms." This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot, giving you another Bible story today. Yesterday we read the wonderful one about the Israelites being able to march through what had been the sea on dry ground. A wall of water on the right, a wall of water on the left, and all the Egyptian chariots and the horsemen and the men were drowned. But the children of Israel were saved.

Today it's that marvelous story in 2 Chronicles chapter 20. "The Moabites and the Ammonites, with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat. Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, 'A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the sea. It's already at Hazazon Tamar (that is En Gedi).'

Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to worry. Is that what it says? No, he was alarmed. But it says, "Jehoshaphat resolves to inquire of the Lord." Find out what God has to say about this thing. "And he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord, and they came from every town in Judah to seek Him."

"Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said, 'O Lord God of our fathers, are You not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand You. O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it forever to the descendents of Abraham, your friends? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for Your name. If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgement or plague or famine, we will stand in Your presence before this temple that bears Your name and we'll cry out to You in our distress. And You will hear us and save us.

"'But now here are men from Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir--whose territory You would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt, so they turned away from them and did not destroy them--see how they are repaying us. By coming to drive us out of the possession You gave us as an inheritance. O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast enemy that is attacking us."

And this is one of my favorite verses coming up here. "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You." I guess every one of us has had dozens--perhaps hundreds, thousands--of experiences in our lives when we would have to say exactly the same thing, "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You." That's the crucial part.

"All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord. Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel, son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, etc. . . and he said, 'Listen King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem, this is what the Lord says to you. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the battle is not yours, but God's.'"

Well my friend Arlita Winston, whom you've heard on this program a few times, had a situation in her own life which was very painful. And she told me the story of various different kinds of suffering that the Lord had asked her to endure, and I asked her permission to use her letter. And this is what she wrote:

"I will distill some of the principles that kept me from going under. In no way think any of these were done easily or that I'm taking a simplistic route. The road you are on is excruciatingly painful and in many ways will be a means of identifying with Christ in His sufferings of rejection. God is intensely interested in forming Christ in our character, and we can assume that He's going to do this in you and your dear daughter-in-law."

So this is what she learned: "Thank Him over and over again for what He is doing through this experience." The experience she was referring to was a rift between two members of the family. Can you imagine thanking God for the rift in the family? Well, that was the very first thing that the children of Israel were to do.

"Then the second thing, sing about His mercies and greatness." And in this chapter in 2 Chronicles 20, it says in verse 22, "As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against their enemies."

"Sing about His mercies and greatness." The enemy would like to destroy your family and your joy, all you have invested and all your hopes for the future. Read that passage carefully.

"First of all they were afraid. Secondly, they sought the Lord. Third, they didn't need to fight because God said He would do it for them. Four, they were not to fear or to be dismayed. Five, singers were appointed to go ahead of the warriors, in the most vulnerable position in other words, and they were to sing of the mercies of God--that was number six. And number seven, and when they sang the Lord sent ambushments."

One of the things that my husband, Lars, and I have noticed when we have visited Joe and Arlita in their home, is that they sing. They sing before breakfast. We could hear them singing in their bedroom. They sing all the time. It seems to me she sings while she's ironing, while she's cooking, while she's cleaning the house, whatever she does--she's a singer. And it's wonderful to hear them sing.

"Then the third principle, concentrate on your reactions to that person, and not on what she is doing. At the present you are in bondage to her. You can get free of this bondage. Perhaps you'll need to get free before she can get free herself. So when she does something against you or you feel her intense dislike, immediately your natural response is fear, hurt, dismay, sadness, anger or--let's be honest--wishing she were dead.

"Now when that happens--number four--take that response to God our Father. This is big number four. We had number one, thank Him. Number two, sing. Number three, concentrate on your reactions. And number four, take that response and go to the Father, to God that is. And say, 'Father, I confess my resentment, or whatever the response is regarding the situation. I confess it as sin.' Don't leave that out, or substitute the word tendency, or be tempted to call it anything other than sin. We do have an antidote for sin.

"Then repent of your sin. Then say, 'Please forgive me.' Next, 'Please forgive her.' Next, receive God's forgiveness based on His Word. And then accept God's forgiveness. Make a list of the grievances and go through this simple prayer over each item. Then tear up the grievances.

"God Himself will begin to act on your behalf and hers. She needs you and you need her. Blessings on you dear one, and bon courage."

A wonderful story. A lovely story. And a word here from Oswald Chambers, a name that's familiar to many of you. He wrote that wonderful little devotional book My Utmost For His Highest. He says, "There is nothing noble the human mind has ever hoped for or dreamed of that will not be fulfilled. One of the greatest strains in life is the strain of waiting for God." This unavoidable uncertainty that we're talking about.

"If our hopes are being disappointed just now, it means that they are being purified. Tenacity is more than endurance; it is endurance combined with the absolute certainty that what we are looking for is going to transpire."

I'll read that last sentence again. "Tenacity is more than endurance; it is endurance combined with the absolute certainty that what we are looking for is going to transpire."

Of course it may turn out to be in a different form than what we expected. But we can certainly hope and dream and trust God and accept that greatest strain in life, which is the strain of waiting for God. Let's remember that God has whole lot of purifying work to be done in us before He can give us whatever it is that we are banging on His door about.

And the prophet Micah says, "Who is a God like You, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance. You do not stay angry forever, but You delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us. You will tread our sins under foot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea."

We have a compassionate, loving God who never keeps us on tenterhooks without very good reasons. How patient He is, how loving. Will you trust Him?

Lisa Barry: I love the words of S.D. Gordon who said, "And trust means trust in the darkest dark where you cannot see." And strained relationships often blind us from objectivity, don?t they. Well, if you?re in a situation today that has left you feeling like you?re treading water in a sea of uncertainty, then let me recommend a book that will help. It?s called God's Guidance: A Slow and Certain Light, and it?s written by Elisabeth Elliot. This book will help you establish the principles of how God leads, which in turn will help quiet your heart and help you to trust. The cost of the book is $13.50 and to order you can send that amount along with your request to:

Gateway to Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. Or toll free 1-800-759-4JOY. That?s 1-800-759-4569. And if you?re on the Internet, be sure and check out our Web site. You?ll find weekly program topics, transcripts and all of the products we offer on this program. That address is gatewaytojoy.org.

And just before we say good-bye, I want to remind you that it?s because of people like you that we?re able to be on this station. Your support for Gateway To Joy is needed and greatly appreciated. Tomorrow Elisabeth talks about how to discern God?s will, so make it a point to join us then for the next Gateway To Joy.

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