I was humbled by the opportunity to meet Steve Saint (son of Nate Saint) as well as Mincaye—one of the tribe members who killed Nate Saint, Jim Elliot and the other missionaries to Ecuador.
As the three of us met for lunch, I learned that only a couple days before, Steve’s daughter had passed away. During our conversation I witnessed the heart of a man whose life has been marred by suffering—losing first his father, and now his daughter. But he was not broken by these realities, nor did he for a minute doubt the goodness of God in his life.
What does Steve know that many of us forget when we experience suffering? He has learned that there is no stronger witness for Christ than that of one wounded by suffering but still trusting in God’s plan. In these moments, the Gospel has great opportunity to reach those without hope in their own lives.
Later that evening, Steve and Mincaye stood in front of 11,000 church leaders gathered from around the world to celebrate the legacy of the Jim Elliot story. It catalyzed the fastest period of growth in church history—nearly a billion people all over the world came to faith in Christ as a result of evangelical missions in the years following the missionaries’ death. Most in attendance that night stood when Steve asked the crowd how many were in ministry today as a direct result of his father’s story. One of the most violent societies on earth was transformed into a people of peace as a result of encountering God’s Word and Christ’s love embodied in faithful believers willing to lay down their lives to see others saved.
It’s hard to understand suffering in this life, but we all experience it. In times of difficulty, we can feel, like the psalmist, poured out like water and as though our strength has dried up. But this is not the end. The psalmist pours out despairing lament that turns to hope knowing that suffering will end in victory (Psalm 22).
Even Jesus experienced suffering (Luke 22:42), and although He asks for it to be removed, He trusts that the Father will ultimately redeem it and come to the rescue.
The believer understands that without loss there is no gain. Without suffering there is no joy. This is the Good News, which has the power to transform lives even amidst the deepest suffering.
“Suffering does not have the last word. In Jesus, the resurrection and the victory of God have the last word.” @NickyGumbel