Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Book Review - Suffering Is Never For Nothing

One of the shaping influences of my life is Elisabeth Elliot. I read almost all of her book in my teens and early twenties. I also had the chance to hear her speak in person at several different events.

I remember sitting on a couch next to Elisabeth in the lobby at one of these events. I thought I'd bubble over with questions, but I couldn't think of anything to say. (Yes, rare speechless moment for Gina.) Elisabeth turned the questions to me asking how I pinned my hair into a bun. We ended up comparing hair notes (she also wore her hair in a bun.) That was when I realized that Elisabeth wasn't only wise and articulate, she was also kind, funny, and, well, human.

When I heard of Elisabeth's death a few years ago, I pulled the whole stack of her books off my shelf intending reread them all. I don't think I got past my favorite (A Path Through Suffering). This post contains affiliate links.

I rarely buy new books. I'm such a tightwad that I'd rather borrow books from the library or wait until I can find the book used.

But when I heard that a new book by Elisabeth Elliot had been published, and when I learned the topic, I immediately ordered it from Amazon.

Suffering Is Never For Nothing was compiled from a transcript of a small conference where Elisabeth spoke on the topic of suffering.

Elisabeth met suffering personally. Her husband, Jim Elliot, was murdered while trying to share the gospel in Ecuador. Cancer took the life of her second husband. Elisabeth has personal experience with wrestling with the hard questions of why God doesn't do something about suffering.

Her answer? He has. God walked the ultimate path of suffering and won the victory. For all of us who suffer.

This book is unlike Elisabeth's other books. The tone is conversational since it came from her spoken words. The prose is not tight like her other books, and I wonder if Elisabeth would be embarrassed to have her unedited script be put to print.

But I underlined many passages in this book and when I finished the last page, I turned to the beginning and started reading again. Right now, a deep theological tome would be too much for me to ingest. But when I read Suffering Is Never For Nothing, I can see Elisabeth's tall thin frame standing behind a lectern, with her soft but authoritative voice sharing God's Word through her life story.

And again I thank God for the way His grace in Elisabeth's life is able to strengthen me.


  1. I finished this book a couple of weeks ago. It was the first Elisabeth Elliot book I have ever read.
    I wish I had known more about her when she was still alive. I would have loved to attend one of her conferences.

  2. I have always enjoyed hearing the radio program that featured Elizabeth Elliot. I would have enjoyed meeting her. Thank you for the book recommendation. I'll see if I can find it at our library.

  3. Elizabeth ParkinsonApril 24, 2019 at 7:05 AM

    I read "A Path through Suffering" a few months ago and thought it was one of the best books I had read on the subject - so real and honest, acknowledging that suffering IS hard. I must try to read this new book. So many Christians are quick to tell you how blessed you will be. It doesn't always feel like that at the time!

  4. I too have learned much from reading Elizabeth's books. Her daughter Valerie has compiled a book of letters that her parents wrote to each other before their marriage The book is called Devotedly. I enjoyed reading about this period of their lives

  5. Bless you, Gina. I think and pray for you often. I love the little story of you next to Elisabeth talking about putting your hair up!!

  6. I pray for you so many times every day...

  7. I agree with every positive word you've written about Elisabeth Elliot. She's my hero too.

  8. holding you all in prayer. Sue

  9. That sounds like a book I would enjoy. I'm glad you are able to concentrate. Bless you as you go through this journey.

  10. I too have been a fan of Elizabeth Elliot's ever since her very first book. Heard her speak once and read all her books except these last ones Must remedy that. Mary Horst

  11. I am currently re-reading Elisabeth's 'These Strange Ashes'. xx


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