Becoming A Woman Whose God is Enough
In the early 1950’s Elisabeth Elliot went to Ecuador as a Bible translator. In her book These Strange Ashes, she recounted the story of finding Don Macario, who was the perfect answer to her prayer for someone to help her learn the language and to assist her in translating the Bible into the Colorado language. He was a Christian, completely bilingual, and in need of work.
After they had been working together for a while, she received the tragic news one day that Macario had been murdered over a land dispute. She was shocked at this loss of her helper and honestly expressed her doubts.
As I look back on that time, I think it was Lesson One for me in the school of faith. That is, it was my first experience of having to bow down before that which I could not possibly explain. . . . Faith’s most severe tests come not when we see nothing, but when we see a stunning array of evidence that seems to prove our faith vain. If God were God, if He were omnipotent, if He had cared, would this have happened? Is this that I face now the ratification of my calling, the reward of obedience? . . . I had desired God Himself and He had not only not given me what I asked for, He had snatched away what I had.
Elisabeth seemed to echo the thoughts of John the Baptist: “Is this my reward for obedience? Are you truly the One?”
How did Elisabeth reconcile the fact that the God she loved and served was also the God who was not always who she preferred Him to be? Here are her thoughts:
It was a long time before I came to the realization that it is in our acceptance of what is given that God gives Himself. . . . Each separate experience of individual stripping we may learn to accept as a fragment of the suffering Christ bore when He took it all. “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” This grief, this sorrow, this total loss that empties my hands and breaks my heart, I may, if I will, accept, and by accepting it, I find in my hands something to offer. And so I give it back to Him who in mysterious exchange give Himself to me.
Trusting God as the great I AM is at the heart of not doubting Him. We are vulnerable to the whispers of the Enemy, who tells us that God is not fair, that if He were a God of love, this tragedy would not have happened. Certainly His silence is evidence of His absence and lack of concern for what we are going through.
Elisabeth experienced what Oswald Chambers calls “the discipline of dismay.” Chambers explains, “The discipline of dismay is essential in the life of discipleship. . . . When the darkness of dismay comes, endure until it is over, because out of it will come that following of Jesus which is an unspeakable joy.” Grasping the truth of God’s love and sacrifice, His ultimate desire to give Himself, and His just and righteous ways keeps us from being offended. It also involves understanding that the discipline of dismay is an intrinsic part in the life of a disciple—in a mysterious way, as we endure, God gives us Himself and proves that He is enough.