Faith in the Midst of Fire
Updated: Mar 24, 2020
One of the things that has brought me great comfort over the years as a follower of Christ are stories of incredible faith. I’m sure you know the category of stories I’m referring to. Those who endured for the cause of Christ in the face of great trial. From those who stood in the face of persecution, to those that continued faithfully while enduring tremendous illness, natural disasters, economic collapse, world wars, and every fathomable calamity you could image. In every case, they all share one common denominator. Rather than give up when it seemed all was lost, they persevered. How is it that they would do this?
One such person that has left an indelible impression on the hearts and minds of believers is Elizabeth Elliot. I’d strongly suggest that if you’ve never read Through Gates of Splendor, her recounting of how her husband and 4 other men were killed by a tribe in the jungles of Ecuador, that you put that next on your lists of to read. In attempting to reach this unreached people group with the gospel, her husband Jim and his 4 friends ultimately lost their lives at the hands of the same tribe. You’d think that after this tragic event, Elizabeth would have left and never returned. But she did the unthinkable. She stayed, along with her 10 month old daughter, and continued the work her husband began. And because of her faithfulness, God used her to reach the very same people that took her husbands life.
Now while this is certainly not an apples to apples comparison of what we now face, the faith that Elizabeth displayed is the exact same kind of faith that we need in this very moment. Her faith was in something far greater than her fear of the moment. And why is that? Let’s examine the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9:
”We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;” ESV
Paul knew what Elizabeth knew. Following Christ will bring with it trials. And they will even feel “crushing“ at times. But these crushing moments do not drive us to despair and quit. Rather, they serve as a reminder to persevere. Paul continues in verse 13 and 14:
”Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke, “we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.” ESV
We have this same “spirit” of faith! No matter the amount of affliction, trial, and persecution we can be assured that these all are working to remind us that we will be with Jesus! And not only that, in verse 15 Paul reminds us that this is all “to the glory of God”. We’re reminded that this is all “momentary” (v.17), and therefore, “we do not lose heart” (v.16). And while we cannot see the ”eternal” (v.18), what we can trust and know is that God is at work right now in this moment of affliction. Elizabeth knew it, Paul knew it, God certainly knows it, and we can know it too!