A note from Kelly King: In today’s article, Kaye Hurta mentions two resources that you may want to consider adding to your library. Both Elisabeth Elliot and Katherine Wolf are examples of women who have encountered suffering and found God’s faithfulness in the midst of it. We can all learn from other women’s stories. Just remember as you lead that every woman has a story—take time to listen and hear it.
A few weeks ago I was at a LifeWay women’s event in my usual role as event counselor. Near mid-point of the event I was meandering my way through the event bookstore, making myself available for any attendee who might have a question or need help. As I perused the book tables I noticed the books being sold that one would expect to sell quickly—trade books and Bible studies by gifted authors and speakers. I glanced over at a book table I helped to stock earlier and noticed a book I had previously stocked was now completely gone; it had sold out.
What was the book? Suffering is Never for Nothing by Elisabeth Elliot.
Elisabeth Elliot was a Christian author and speaker. You may remember her story as her first husband, Jim Elliot, was murdered in 1956 while attempting to make missionary contact with the Huaorani people of eastern Ecuador. She later spent two years as a missionary to the tribe members who killed her husband. Her second husband was lost to cancer. Her story is one of extraordinary trust, extraordinary faith, extraordinary courage, and extraordinary suffering.
The fact that her book was the first one to be scooped up landed tender on my heart. I stood in that bookstore and wondered about the women who bought her book. I wondered about their stories of pain and suffering. I wondered if, while at this event crowded with noise and women, they were feeling alone, lost, unseen, or unheard in their own suffering.
As I wondered about the women who would be reading that book, searching its pages for hope or a guide to get them through their own world of pain, my thoughts quickly turned to you. I thought about all the people who would be pastors, guides, caregivers, encouragers, and lifelines to these women. Doing this well, being equipped to offer theologically kind and loving care is planted deeply in my soul. Suffering at some level is the one thing every human will have in common at some point in their lives. Learning to care, to love, to listen, to carry, to hold, and to kindly engage stories of suffering should be required learning for every Christ-follower (in my humble opinion).
My challenge and encouragement today is for you—those ministering to hurting women—to continue to be a learner. Read what you can about stories of suffering, listen closely for tips from their caregivers, and practice what worked well. If you haven’t already, I recommend reading Elisabeth’s book, Suffering is Never for Nothing. I would also highly recommend a book by a young woman and her husband named Katherine and Jay Wolf called, Hope Heals. In a future article I will say more about the impact her story has had and is having on my soul. For now, here are three simple ways to engage in the story of someone’s suffering:
- Learn. Become a student of suffering and pain. Read, watch, and study other’s lives and stories. Imitate and incorporate what works well and discard what is harmful.
- Listen. Not advise, not fix, not solve but listen to someone’s story. Sit with them in their pain.
- Love. Love does. (That’s a nod to a book by Bob Goff.) Love sees a need and then seeks to meet it.
A person who is suffering or in pain is often connected to a family who is suffering and in pain.
Perhaps you aren’t wired to sit with the person in pain, but you are beautifully equipped to take her children to the playground. Love does. Find out what needs to be done, and do it.
I am praying today that every one of us will become better students of pain and suffering, and in doing so we will be better equipped to offer help and hope to those who are hurting.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.