Holding On Through Times of Suffering

Hey there! Welcome back to my blog. Today, I’ve got a special guest post from one of my closest friends, Luella. In this article, she will break down how suffering is ultimately for our benefit and how we should respond, while drawing examples from a special person’s life. Who is that person? Well, I’m not the one writing today, so don’t look at me, just keep reading!

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When was the last time that you were in a place of hardship or suffering?

The past week, month, or even a few years?

There was a clockmaker who was quite familiar with suffering and her name was Corrie ten Boom. If you don’t know who she is, she was a Dutch woman who was born on April 15, 1892 and endured hardships she faced during both World War I and World War II.

Now, Corrie was a simple and quite frankly, ordinary Dutch woman whose days were not spent doing very exciting things. She would go for a walk with her father, get the daily supplies, tend the watch shop, help repair the watches, and in the evenings, spend time with her family reading the Bible. However, God was using her in the ministry of teaching the Bible to the mentally disabled and housing those without a home in the small village of Haarlem, Netherlands.

The Nazis invaded the Netherlands in 1940 and Corrie got involved with God’s calling for her to protect His people. Helping the Jews was a massive and dangerous undertaking because while God wanted to protect His chosen people, the Nazis wanted the extermination of them. Protecting the Jews often resulted in great punishment in prison camps. 

Even though God could have protected her from the fate she was about to face, He knew what was best for Corrie. He allowed her to be imprisoned along with her whole family to protect the eight Jews she was keeping in her house. By the Lord’s grace, all of the Jews she hid in the secret room were not found! 

Through her grueling experiences in three different prisons and all of the things that happened in them, good and bad, the Lord still kept a close watch over her life. In her story, we learn why God allows suffering, how He uses our hard situations to bless us and others, and in what ways we should respond to our own suffering.  

Ground Rules 

Let me just lay out some of the ideas and theologies I will be using throughout this article so that we’re on the same page.

Suffering and struggle in life doesn’t mean God isn’t in control of what is going on or that He is maliciously letting us suffer; instead, He is giving us room to grow and deepen our character and relationship with Him. God knows exactly what needs to happen in our lives to produce the kind of character we are lacking. Most often He does that through hard experiences, as we’ll see with Corrie.

With that said, let’s get back to her!

Why God Allows Suffering

Sure, Corrie had a great faith before the trials she went through, but God gave her the experience she needed to put even more trust in Him and an even more profound passion for spreading the gospel.

While she was helping the Jews find safe places to stay, God was shaping her reliance on His strength and His provisions that she would otherwise not have had. Later, she would be in situations where what God had supplied her with in past experiences would be put to good use. In our lives and in Corrie’s life, His gifts often come in strange packages and always at the right time.

How God Uses Our Suffering to Bless Others

Not only will our suffering shape us into the person God wants us to be, but will also be a tool He uses to skulpt other people’s lives at the same time! Through Corrie’s time in the Underground, the secret revolution against the Germans, her head was always on a swivel and she was scared for the lives of everyone she was protecting, for her family, and herself if they were ever found out.

Despite that, in that time of dread and trusting God, she rescued eight-hundred Jews! Even in her darkest hours in prison, the love of Jesus was still her lifesaver and she tried very hard to get past her own suffering to help others. 

During her time in person, she and her sister Betsie would hold prayer, worship, and Bible studies whenever they could and God would always provide them with the supply of strength, translators, and also peace from the guards. An example of this is the story of them and the fleas.

God is Ultimately Glorified in Our Suffering

Have you or your pet experienced or even just heard a story of how awful fleas are? Fleas are little insects that live and love to burrow their little icky heads into a host and drink their blood until they look like a swollen balloon. Ravensbruck prison, where Corrie and Betsie were staying at this point in their story, was infested with them! Their cots, clothes, blankets, and themselves were all stricken by these little demons of pain and infection, but they too served God’s purpose. 

Somehow, Corrie and Betsie would go uninterrupted while teaching others about Christ and helping them. That was because the guards detested the fleas and would never go into the room to ever find their prison ministry. How incredible God is to find such a clever way to use suffering for His children’s good! 

After the war, Corrie fulfilled the prophetic vision Betsie had told Corrie before she died of making a sanctuary for people who went through the horrors of prison. Corrie could personally relate to all of them since she had gone through the same thing. She also traveled the world telling people about the hardships and trials they went through, but also how God brought them through it all.

Though she died in April of 1983, her story has continued throughout the world to comfort those who are hurting and are equipping those who haven’t yet experienced pain like that with the courage they need to fight when it comes. One of the people Corrie had influenced with her story was Joni Eareckson Tada. Joni is paralyzed from the neck down due to a diving accident and battled with depression for many years because of it. A few years into her new condition a friend gave her Corrie’s first book, The Hiding Place, which gave her hope in her suffering and the power to move onto what God had for her. 

Suffering Opens Opportunities 

This one will make your toes curl, but oddly enough, our suffering opens opportunities we would not otherwise have. Knowing what a certain type of suffering entails will open opportunities for God to work through you to help others who are or have gone through that same suffering.

As I have already mentioned, Corrie opened a house for prison survivors and truly helped them to forgive their guards or fellow countrymen who betrayed them. When we are in that suffering, God still uses it to benefit others! All of the eight-hundred Jews who Corrie assisted in saving were saved in a time of their distress, but at the same time she put herself into their suffering.

All of our suffering points to God and how He is using this time to prepare us for eternity with Him in heaven, where there will no longer be pain and suffering.

You see now, God is exemplified in the anguish we go through! He desperately wants us to have a relationship with Him and sometimes He uses our suffering to dip our toes into the world without Him. When we finally realize we need to run back to His grace, He doesn’t turn us away because we didn’t love Him before, but opens His arms to give us a warm embrace. Then He’ll sit you down to tell you how He was using the hurt to bring a certain characteristic we needed for our future along with a story of how He loved us way before we were even born.

The love we see Him pour out on us is the love of a great Father who, no matter the circumstances, will always do the best thing for His child.

Closing

With all of those things in mind we now ask, “How then am I supposed to deal with suffering?” There are three things I’ll leave you with.

First, our suffering is ultimately for our good. All God wants is for us to be is fruitful and sometimes that fruit is made with a freeze, like how tulips have to be planted before winter so their bulb will break in the winter and produce a dashing flower in the spring. 

Second, God may even plant some other bulbs in our life that we can help show how there is a time coming where they too will become beautiful flowers, like dahlias.

And finally, those flowers may be used in a bouquet or in a pot or simply left to grow for people passing by, and they will be used for a greater purpose. 

We shouldn’t be viewing our trials as trivial; instead, we should look at them the way James describes them in James 1:2-4:

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4 NASB

Eric Liddell: Making Sacrifices

Hi, friend! Welcome to my blog. I hope you’re doing well!

Today it’s time to kick off the Live It! series. The first person we’ll be talking about is Eric Liddell.

Who Was Eric Liddell?

Eric Henry Liddell was an Olympic runner and missionary to China. Born on January 16, 1902 in Tientsin, China, Liddell was the son of a Scottish missionary family. He spent his early years in China before being brought to Scotland with his older brother for his education at Eltham College.

During his school years, Liddell excelled in sports of all kinds, “At the age of 15, Liddell was named best athlete of the year and became the youngest in school history to captain both the cricket and rugby teams.” (ABWE, ‘Jesus In Running Shoes’: Honoring Eric Liddell 75 Years Later.)

After graduating from Eltham College, Liddell went on to Edinburgh University in 1921. During his time there, his running took off and he won several prizes from university races and competitions. In April of 1923, he also spoke in front of an audience about his Christian faith for the first time at an evangelistic campaign.

In July of the same year he qualified for the British Olympic team for the 1924 Olympics in Paris, France. Liddell’s best race was the 100-meter. However, since the qualifying races for that event were held on Sunday, he refused to run in them. This caused quite an uproar.

Some people even called him a traitor to his country. A man unfit to represent Scotland.

Something Greater Than Gold, p. 46

Liddell, however, stood by his decision. He agreed to run other races that weren’t held on Sundays, but he still sacrificed potential gold medals for standing by his beliefs.

After the Olympics Liddell decided he wanted to follow in his parents’ footsteps and pursue mission work in China. While in China, he taught Chinese students science and was liked by many people he worked with for his “friendly and energetic personality.” (ABWE, ‘Jesus In Running Shoes’: Honoring Eric Liddell 75 Years Later.)

While in China, Liddell got to know Florence Mackenzie, a daughter of another missionary family. He liked spending time with her and being around her, and after getting to know her, he decided he wanted her to be his wife. He proposed to her when she was still pretty young, but they waited until Florence had graduated from nursing school to get married. After several years of waiting, they were married in March of 1934. 

Liddell and his wife continued their work in China together. In the 1940s, however, things began to change and living in China was becoming more dangerous. In 1941, with World War II brewing, Liddell sent his two young girls and Florence, who was pregnant with their third child, to Canada. Liddell decided to stay behind in China to continue his work.

Escorting Flo and his daughters to the ship that would take them to Canada was probably the most difficult thing that Eric Liddell ever had to do in his life.

Something Greater Than Gold, p. 162

What makes Liddell’s decision so noble is that it was entirely voluntary. No one would have blamed Liddell for taking the easy route by going with his loved ones. This extraordinary sacrifice distinguishes Liddell as a man of utmost obedience.

‘Jesus In Running Shoes’: Honoring Eric Liddell 75 Years Later (ABWE)

Liddell was taken to a Japanese internment camp in 1943 before he could make the trip to Canada to return to his family. Liddell didn’t let the circumstances hinder him, however.

Eric was probably the most popular person in the whole camp. His roommates got tired of the constant stream of children parading past the door looking for Uncle Eric.

Something Greater Than Gold, p. 185

Sadly, though, Liddell’s health began to decline. He died in the internment camp from a brain tumor on February 21, 1945. He was never able to meet his third daughter or see his family again, and it was a couple of months before Florence heard of his death. 

The Legacy

Liddell sacrificed a lot in his life. He could have run on Sundays. He could have continued his career as an Olympic runner. He could have gone home with his family to Canada.

Instead, he gave his life to God. He didn’t run on Sundays. He decided that he would pursue a career as a missionary. He died in China, far away from his loved ones.

It’s terrible to read about his death at a young age away from his family, but it’s also beautiful. It’s beautiful that he was willing to continue to serve the Lord despite the dangerous circumstances. It’s beautiful that he chose to be a light to those in China and the internment camp, even though the situation was far from happy. It’s beautiful that he chose Jesus over everything else.

So what can we learn from Liddell’s life? We can learn that sometimes we have to make sacrifices. Sometimes we have to give things up, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be filled with joy and happiness in what God has done for us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Liddell ran his race, but for a much greater prize than gold, and keeping his eyes on Jesus all the way.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed today’s article on Eric Liddell! If you want to learn more about Liddell and his life, I’ll link the sources I used for this article down below. Thank you so much for reading! I’ll see you next time!

Have a blessed day, 

~Caroline

Bibliography

Benge, Janet and Geoff. Eric Liddell: Something Greater Than Gold. Seattle: YWAM Publishing, 1998.

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopedia. “Eric Liddell.” Encyclopedia Britannica, January 12, 2021. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Eric-Liddell.

McCasland, David. Eric Liddell: Pure Gold. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Discovery House, 2001.

Skinker, Loren. “‘Jesus In Running Shoes’: Honoring Eric Liddell 75 Years Later.” ABWE.org, February 21, 2020. https://www.abwe.org/blog/%E2%80%98jesus-running-shoes%E2%80%99-honoring-eric-liddell-75-years-later.

The People Who Lived to the Lord (+New Blog Series)

Hello, friend! Welcome to my blog. I hope you’re doing well.

To start off today’s article, I’d like to tell you a little bit about my bookshelf. Don’t worry, I’m not going to describe it to you in detail (though if you really want that, I could), just hear me out. 

My Bookshelf 

On my bookshelf in my room, one of the shelves has several books by the same authors and publishing company. Each of these books talks about a different person’s life. There’s one with the name ‘Rachel Saint’, another with ‘Hudson Taylor’, a third with the name, ‘Gladys Aylward.’ The majority of these people were missionaries or those who lived for God.

Why I Love These Biographies 

I have several of these biographies on my shelf because I enjoy reading about these people’s lives. Each story is different and their dedication and love for Christ is a shining light in them.

Let’s talk about one of the names I mentioned above: Rachel Saint. Rachel’s brother, Nate, was a missionary pilot in Ecuador and worked on a team with four other men. One day, Nate and his friends were killed by tribesmen they were trying to reach in the jungle. Rachel, however, continued her missionary work to these people and later, to quote the biography, 

Now Rachel found herself looking into the eyes of the man who may well have speared her brother to death… [she] felt not anger but compassion toward him.

Rachel Saint: A Star in the Jungle, p. 148

Rachel Saint continued to reach out towards these people and helped progress the Gospel significantly. Her love for them despite what they did to her brother is incredible and truly inspirational. We can also learn from her story. She exercised love and forgiveness when faced with these men, even though she knew what they had done in the past.

Introducing the Live It! Series 

Now I’m happy to introduce you to the Live It! series, where we will focus on the lives of missionaries and others who lived to the Lord. I will be going into more detail, using these biographies and other resources, about these people’s lives. Please remember, however, that even though these people did great things, Jesus should still be our ultimate role model and hope. These people lived for Jesus, and though they can inspire us to do the same, they should not become idols.

Final Thoughts 

Thank you for reading today’s article! Are you excited about the new series? Do you have a missionary or person you’ve read about that you’d like to see an article on? Let me know in the comments below or through the Contact page. I’ll see you next time!

Have a blessed day,

~Caroline