In Others’ Words: The Love of God and Our Limited Vision

Protection Elisabeth Eliot 2015

I cried when I heard that Elisabeth Elliot died on Monday, June 15. I know I am one of thousands mourning her death even as we smile at the thought of her passing “through the gates of splendor.” Elisabeth Elliot’s 1957 bestselling book Through the Gates of Splendor told the story of how her husband Jim and four other missionaries, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian, were martyred as they tried to make contact with the Huaroni in Ecuador.

Elisabeth Elliot’s writing influenced my life as a young believer, trying to grow in her faith and her understanding of God. One of my favorite books written by Elliot was Keep a Quiet Heart, a devotional based on excerpts from her newsletter. There were many quotes I could have shared here today to reflect her heart, her wisdom, her intimate walk with God … but I chose this one.


Because God does say he is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. (Psalm 46:1) God does say to call upon him in time of trouble and we shall be saved. (Psalm 50:15) God does promise to protect us from harm. (Psalm 121:7)

And yet, bad things happen. We are harmed. We are hurt. We suffer. And sometimes we say “That’s life” and sometimes we say “Why, God?” and sometimes … sometimes in the dark of night our faith fails us.

My friend “Wise Guy” and I have discussed this. (I call him Wise Guy because that is what he is: wise.) And he said something profound: Yes, God does promise to keep us safe. But his definition of safety must be different than ours because of all the things we face in our lives.

Elisabeth Elliot put it this way: [God] will not necessarily protect us — not from anything that makes us like His Son.

Her vision of God was clear. She didn’t blink in the face of adversity. Didn’t waver in her trust of God.

In Your Words: How do you reconcile God’s will in our lives and His promise to protect us? What has God used in you live to change you, to transform you — to make you look more like His Son?

[Tweet “In Others’ Words: The Love of God and Our Limited Vision #inotherswords #faith #ElisabethElliot”] [Tweet “Wrestling with the truth “God will not neccessarily protect us … ” #faith #ElisabethElliot #quotes”]


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  1. June 17, 2015, 12:54 am   /  Reply

    Interesting question, as today…well, yesterday, now…was a day that started horribly and got worse.

    I don’t believe for a moment that these dread events are ordained by God to make us more like Christ.Tome, they are the byproducts of a world in which free will has to be operative to allow us the choices that will shape our souls, byproducts that can range from human evil to natural disasters to the presence of unbearable disease.

    What I believe God does do is to offer support that gets us through, with faith and hope – at least, hope to a degree – intact. He can’t change the rules to protect His favourites without negating the meaning of Creation, but He can offer us the spiritual tools to face that which comes. I was going to say, “with confidence”, but that’s wrong, because there is always going to be something so shattering that it destroys our confidence, our very will. It’s enough that we face the darkness. Don’t ask for more than that.

    This does beg the question of miraculous deliverance…does it exist, and what does it MEAN? It’s not mutually exclusive with the world requiring free will, but the miraculous has to be defined as meeting a special, wider need than simply the wishes or prayers of the person on whom it acts. It’s almost accidental; the recipient of the miracle was not special, he or she was in the right place at the right time for God to be able to use the miraculous to prove a point.

    • June 17, 2015, 10:22 am   /  Reply

      I am sorry to hear that you have struggled so.
      I agree with you that God does offer support to get us through times of suffering — faith and hope. And that when our faith and hope wavers, he often provides the faith and hope of others to support us.
      But I do believe that God also uses these times time conform us to His image — to scrape off us that which doesn’t look like Him — doubt, fear, insecurity …
      I believe He says, “That doesn’t look like me — and I want you to reflect me to the world.”

  2. June 17, 2015, 6:55 am   /  Reply

    Thanks for this sweet post which my heart fully echoes. And I have or have read most of her books–just ordered the Devotional–thanks.

    • June 17, 2015, 10:23 am   /  Reply

      Let me know what you think of the devotional. I read and reread it many years ago. May have to go pull it off my bookshelf.

  3. June 17, 2015, 8:30 am   /  Reply

    My go to verse during times of trials is Isaiah 43:1-3–Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name. You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you pass through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord you God, the Holy one of Israel, your Savior.

    • June 17, 2015, 10:23 am   /  Reply

      Such a strong verse of hope, Pat.

  4. June 17, 2015, 9:24 am   /  Reply

    I, too, cut my growing-in-Christ teeth on Elisabeth Elliott’s writings, especially Passion and Purity. I read her quote that you mentioned and based this post on.

    I have definitely seen when God’s definition of safety and mine are different. Each time, it broadens my perspective and understanding of Who God is. I’m learning to trust Him more, even when the hard things of life come.

    Most recently, I believe God’s used some of the struggles with one of our boys to help me look more like Jesus. It’s been painful. But, He’s developing within me more Jesus-like characteristics.

    • June 17, 2015, 10:25 am   /  Reply

      It is always a choice in the midst of suffering: to trust God or not? I find myself drawn to people who choose to trust Him because their faith strengthens mine.

  5. Gail Hollingsworth
    June 17, 2015, 12:39 pm   /  Reply

    I’ve always admired Elisabeth Elliott and the strength she had. I read Through the Gates of Splender many times and was amazed at what she was able to do after her husband was murdered. I don’t think I would have been able to do as she did, but God was definitely with her.
    Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? He doesn’t. Sin does. God wanted us to have a perfect world but man messed that up. But He does work with us after we sin to turn things around to His will for us.

  6. June 18, 2015, 7:42 am   /  Reply

    Beautiful. Wise. Thank you 🙂

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