I read my dear Elisabeth Elliot when my heart is unsettled. When my heart is quiet, I leave her book on the bedside table, knowing I'll need that medicine again. So, I've been reading a bit for the past couple of days. Here is what Dr. Elliot had to say:
"Why is God doing this to me? ... In our darkness we suppose He has overlooked us. He hasn't.
I have been compiling a list of the answers God Himself has given us to our persistent question about adversity:
1. We need to be pruned ... if we are bearing fruit, then we must be pruned." Jesus shows his disciples this wonderful, painful metaphor in John 15. "They could take comfort in knowing that the pruning proved they were neither barren nor withered, for in that case they would simply be burned up in the brushpile."
I needed this reminder. I know -- I KNOW -- that Adam and I have had a tremendous, spiritual influence in many students' lives in the past 3 years. He, particularly, has been a light for God's Word and its truth, in a world that increasingly de-values that Word. Yet, we both wonder -- "Why would God remove us from fruitful ministry? What did we do wrong?" Pruning occurs when the branch is doing everything RIGHT.
Elliot continues, "Why should we be so baffled when the Lord cuts away good things from our lives? He has explained why. 'This is my Father's glory, that you may bear fruit in plenty and so be my disciples.'"
She ends with this passage from George MacDonald, "Diary of an Old Soul":
"But Thou are making me, I thank Thee, sire.
What Thou hast done and doest Thou know'st well.
And I will help Thee; gently in Thy fire
I will lie burning; on Thy potter's wheel
I will whirl patient, though my brain should reel.
Thy grace shall be enough the grief to quell,
And growing strength perfect through weakness dire."
What an image! "Gently in Thy fire I will lie burning." That is the kind of childlike trust that I believe God truly wants to find in His children. He is refining us. And certainly Adam's and my brief trials right now are nothing compared to the struggles of others, and even of our previous trials.
I hope these words are helpful to one of you today.