“God writes the best stories from the hardest beginnings,” I heard Steve Saint say on YouTube this evening. Steve Saint would know. He was only a small child in 1956 when his father, Nate Saint, was murdered by a few men from the Waorani, or Auca, tribe of Ecuador. Steve’s father, a Christian missionary pilot, was slain along with four other missionaries by the very people with whom they were seeking to share Christ’s gospel. A couple years later, Elizabeth Elliot (the wife of one of the missionaries) and Rachel Saint (Nate’s sister and Steve’s aunt) returned to the Waorani tribe to carry on the martyrs’ mission. Many Waorani repented and trusted in Christ. As a youth, Steve joined his Aunt Rachel in Ecuador, and later with his wife and children he returned once again to Ecuador to live with the Waorani . . . and to love them.
Yet, the Steve Saint YouTube I saw this evening was not about his devoted father, the redeemed Waorani, or the missionaries’ horrific death over 50 years ago. Instead, it was about Steve Saint’s hospital stay this year after a tragic flying accident that left him paralyzed. Throughout the challenging circumstances of his childhood, youth, and adult life, the Lord has taught Steve to “walk by faith and not by sight” and has prepared him to endure this new, incredible trial. Steve’s steadfast trust the Lord is evident for all to see during the many painful weeks of recovery in the hospital as he humbly shares (in a series of four YouTubes) his thoughts about the accident, his faith and dependency, the sufferings of Christ, and the good purposes of God.
Steve Saint quotes the following poem, “The Thorn” by Martha Snell Nicholson. As Saint spoke the poignant words, I was reminded of Apostle Paul’s circumstances in II Corinthians 12:7-10. Paul writes, ” . . . there was given me a thorn in the flesh . . . to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Do you have a thorn? Is there a burden or circumstance in your life that is making you acutely aware of your weakness? Are you realizing how utterly dependent you are upon the Lord in order to press on?
Learn from Nate Saint, Martha Snell Nicholson, and Paul. Sometimes we are given a thorn to see Christ more clearly and to cherish Him like never before. Is that not worth the thorn?
The Thorn by Martha Snell Nicholson
I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”
He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”
I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace:
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.