Four Steps to Joy in Suffering

Janet Aucoin August 27, 2021

How can we process suffering in a way that results joy in the midst of hard times? Alexandra Nitzschke opens up about her personal experience in suffering in self-destructive ways and in biblical ways, and shares four steps she uses to pursue joy when times get tough. Main Passage: Psalm 34

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Transcript:

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Resources:

Books

Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy - Mark Vroegop

God’s Healing for Life’s Losses - Bob Kelleman

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God - John Piper

Trusting God - Jerry Bridges

Sermon

John 11 - Faith church

Websites

VOH Residential Treatment

Restoration Residential Treatment

ACBC Counselors

Janet: I don't just need to feel better. I need the truth. And ultimately that will make me better.
Alexandra: I just want to make it as totally simple and no brainer as possible for ladies to see that
the Bible is really applicable to their everyday life.
Jocelyn: When they understand theology, the application flows out of it quickly with joy.
Janet: It is a journey, but even the journey itself is joyful when I'm doing it, holding the hand of
my savior and trusting him all along the way. This is the joyful journey podcast, a podcast to
inspire and equip women to passionately pursue beautiful biblical truth on their journey as
women of God. When you choose truth, you're choosing joy. Typically, I’ll be joined by either
Jocelyn or Alexandra, but for our first full episode listen as all three of us discuss the topic of
joy.
Janet: Welcome back. Once again, on this episode, Alexandra is going to share how she learned
to suffer with hope in some very specific ways in her life. Alexandra, I really do appreciate the
vulnerability that this takes. So why is it important for you to share this with us?
Alexandra: Well, I think the topic of suffering, is just very relevant because God says that
everyone goes through suffering 1, Peter 4:12 says "beloved, do not be surprised." Don't be
surprised "at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you as though something strange were
happening to you."
Janet: And yet we're usually surprised. Yeah.

Alexandra: Yeah. You know how to have joy in suffering. It's a topic that I'm pretty passionate
about because this was my path to getting there. And also actually, why I'm really excited to be
part of this Joyful Journey podcast. If you've been saved by grace, you can choose joy. This is the
believers journey. If we are in pursuit of holiness in all areas of our life, we should have a life
marked by joy.
Janet: Yes.
Alexandra: Two quotes that I really appreciate about joy in the area of suffering are by John
Piper and the late David Powlison. John Piper says "there are rare and wonderful species of joy
that flourish only in the rainy atmosphere of suffering." And David Powlison said "in the hands
of a loving God, sorrow and suffering become the doorways into the greatest and most
indestructible joys."
Janet: Wow. That is powerful.
Alexandra: Yeah. So, I am a graduate of Vision of Hope residential treatment center. If our
listeners are not familiar with that, it's a ministry of Faith Church, that helps at risk women who
are struggling with life dominating habitual sin. So I
Janet: We'll link in our show notes. We'll link to something to Vision of Hope so they can learn
more.
Alexandra: Absolutely. I struggled with some life dominating sins that led me to the point where
I needed 24 hour accountability and round the clock care from biblical counselors. And the
reason why I ended up there is because for so long, I pursued what I call counterfeit joys.
Another word for this is idolatry. But my soul longed for joy and I was looking for it in the
wrong places.
Janet: So this started obviously before you were at Vision of Hope. So can you take us back to
that time before? What do you think were some of the wrong views of suffering that kind of led
you down that wrong path?
Alexandra: Sure. And I guess I should say my testimony is split up between two sections. One: I
went through suffering as a new believer and I handled it in the worst ways possible. And then I
went through a period where the Lord, offered me opportunities of good repentance and just kind
of retraining me. And then he brought in another wave of suffering in my life. And by God's
grace, I was able to handle it in different ways. And so this is kind of the story of how I got there
and what I learned along the way and what I'd love to share with...
Janet: The two paths.

Alexandra: Yes. And what I'd love to share with everyone today. So, I was raised in a Christian
home and I got saved at the age of 12. At the age of 13, though, my family went through a pretty
big trial and it was my first time being exposed to deep suffering.
Janet: It's hard on a young faith.
Alexandra: It is. It is. And I handled suffering in the wrong ways. So I knew God would save me
from suffering in hell. But now I knew firsthand that God wasn't about to save me from suffering
here on earth. Thus began this obsession with control. I thought if I could control my life, then I
would not experience the chaos of suffering. And chaos was like the hell that I was trying to
avoid and the messiah was my idol of control. And obviously we never really do have control.
So, in my obsession of seeking control, I began to become very anxious and then I dealt with my
anxiety in the worst ways possible. So it started with self-harm and cutting and looking back on
it. This was a pain that I thought I could control.
Janet: Which is always so fascinating with self harm, because we don't want pain.
Alexandra: Right.
Janet: But it's better to have a pain I can control.
Alexandra: Yes. Yes. So my parents took me to see a psychologist and the psychologist really did
help me stop the behaviors and help me not to do life-threatening things, but my heart was raging
out of control and I was not repentant. So I looked for control and other ways, which eventually
manifested itself in an eating disorder. So with my eating disorder, I struggled with both sides of
the extremes. I would starve myself and over exercise and become, I just became so obsessed
with an emaciated body. And when I would get too skinny and my parents would force me to eat,
or if I messed up and ate too much, suddenly I would swing to the other side of the spectrum and
binge and purged. I abused laxatives. I did self-induced vomiting and every disgusting method
you could think of. And this went on for over a decade and these two extremes... if you
remember, Jocelyn had talked about an earlier episode about the, what'd you call it the spectrum,
the swinging from,
Janet: Yes.
Alexandra: Yeah, so...
Janet: The pendulum.
Alexandra: Yes. Yes. So that's kind of where I was at. I was just swinging back and forth, back
and forth, but then these two extremes just kept getting worse and worse and worse until I can no
longer hold down a meal. So when you give into habitual sin, any sin habitually, you're walking
by the flesh and God, because he's not cruel, he does not allow you to experience the fruits of the

Spirit that occur when you're walking by the Spirit. So, I was very depressed. I was very anxious
and to deal with this, I would drown myself in pills, cigarettes, alcohol, anything that I could find
that would numb the reality of my mind and this life was so miserable, but I felt like it was better
than being present with the thoughts in my head. And I know this sounds crazy, but I was a
believer and I just kept trying to repent and then I would trip up so bad. And I eventually got to a
place where my biblical counselor that I was being forced to see. She helped me to admit that I
not only needed help, but I did need that round the clock care. She recommended Vision of Hope
residential treatment center here in Lafayette, Indiana. And it was recommended because it was a
rehabilitation center for at-risk women that exclusively used biblical counseling. So, to be honest
with you guys, I applied and said, I'll give this place six months and if it doesn't work, then I will
commit suicide.
Janet: Just think that you are at that point of despair.
Alexandra: So deep.
Janet: And yet stopping everything was not an option to you. It was despair and suicide.
Alexandra: Yeah. Yep. So where was God? I felt like he was calling to me, but I was so deep in
this ocean of suffering. Suffering that had been things that I could not control, but then suffering
of my own consequences of sin.
Janet: Yeah.
Alexandra: And I was just so spiritual, emotionally out of breath, and I felt like I couldn't reach
him. But then my eyes finally started seeing the beauty of Jesus Christ and the beauty of the
gospel and the beauty of grace. And over time, this allowed a hatred of sin to begin in my life.
As I stared with a thirsty soul at the beautiful Christ.
Janet: I love that to see that the answer was not stop. Stop. You should feel guilty, feel worse. It
was staring at the beautiful Christ that helped you to see there was something better.
Alexandra: So true, and it's only in beholding his beauty that you could really see sin for what it
is. And it's just ugly.
Janet: Yeah.
Alexandra: So the Lord, while I was at Vision of Hope, he allowed by his tremendous grace. He
allowed me to experience some freedom from my eating disorder, and I began to walk in
faithfulness with the help of my church. Then I'm going to make this part pretty short, but I met
my husband and he's just everything I could ever want. I mean, he's not, you know, he's a sinner.
But he's everything I could ever want.

Janet: I mean who doesn't want a guy that looks like Superman.
Alexandra: Right! He does look like Superman. He looks like Clark Kent. He's just the nicest
person I've ever met. Gorgeous. He's passionate about Jesus and learning about Jesus and living
for Jesus. And for some reason, when we met, he immediately told his mom I'm going to marry
that girl. And a year later we were married. Apart from Christ, he is truly the greatest gift God
has ever given me. And we both joke that he and I both say, oh, I married up, but in my case it
really is true. So, we had a beautiful wedding. Gospel-centered just
Janet: So the hard times are over. You're growing. You're in a new marriage.
Alexandra: Yeah.
Janet: Life is good.
Alexandra: It's so good and just so thankful and so happy. But about 11 days after we got
married. So pretty much when we came home from our honeymoon, my mom was diagnosed
with stage four, squamous cell carcinoma. This specific type of cancer that she was diagnosed
with is extremely rare and extremely aggressive. And it has a very, very high mortality rate. And
it was just, she's a very, she was very healthy. It was complete, completely shocking. So the
doctors gave her about two months to live and she ended up living two and a half years. Though
she lived two and a half years, those two and a half years were filled with tremendous amounts
of unspeakable suffering and her cancer journey. And my dad and I were her main caregivers.
And I was mainly relief for my dad. He did so much for her. He was such a servant for her and
my whole family, what we were exposed to in her suffering, we still can barely talk about it. I
remember the night that she died, I was sleeping and my dad was with her and he was just
exhausted. And I just, I woke up and just thought I need to go and sit with her. And so I went in
to their room and I just sat and I hauled her hand And I had one of her hands with me and then
one of my hands on her chest. And, she ended up passing away, not too long after that. And I felt
her heart beating until the last pulse. Her last 24 hours were not a like peaceful passing.
Janet: Yeah.
Alexandra: Like a gentle slipping from the earth. It was absolutely awful. Anyone who's walked
alongside someone with cancer knows what I'm talking about. It's tremendous amounts of
suffering. And when she finally had passed, I wanted to run out into our woods and just scream.
The depth of pain I was feeling. It was just, it was unbearable. But throughout her two and a half
years of walking through cancer, because of people like you, Janet in my life and the body of
Christ, I really felt equipped to handle the suffering in different ways than I had when I was a
young teenager. And as a result at her funeral, I experienced a joy so deep that I hadn't. I had
experienced joy before, but this depth of joy I had never, I experienced, I did not even know it
was possible. And, I, like I said, I truly credit that fruit that the Lord allowed me to bear at her

funeral. I truly credit it to. The tiny decisions I made throughout her cancer journey. I wasn't
perfect. I definitely messed up, but, choices that I made that God's grace allowed me to make, as
I walked alongside my mother's suffering. And I believe that those choices are choices that any
Christian, any believer can make. And I really want to share with our listeners today in case it
might help someone else who is suffering.
Janet: And it doesn't have to be cancer. There are so many ways that we suffer that I love that the
Lord has really shown you, there are ways to suffer and still experience joy. So I pray that this
episode gives a lot of hope to people in a lot of different kinds of suffering.
Alexandra: So true. Yes, me too. So I'm going to give four steps and I'm going to just kinda walk
through the four steps pretty quickly. And then we're going to break down what each step is. It's
important for me that you guys know that this is not just like, okay, step one, step two, step three,
step four. Okay. I have joy. Sometimes I need to hang out and step two for a while.
Janet: Right.
Alexandra: Or I'm at step three and now I need to go. It's just a really hard day. And I need to go
back to step one. Like, it's just, this is a progression, but suffering is so messy, you know, it's not
clean cut. And so just be okay with...
Janet: It's a winding path.
Alexandra: It truly is.
Janet: Yeah.
Alexandra: Okay. So the four steps to... from hurting to hope or to have joy in the midst of
suffering. So step one is lament over suffering. Step two, repent from idolatry.
Janet: I know you'll talk more about that, but for people going, I don't even know what that
means. Really idolatry our typical sinful responses to our suffering that we do instead of
worshiping.
Alexandra: Yes. Step three, apply biblical truth. Step four, wait and hope. So let's start with
lament over suffering. And you cannot skip over this step. Like if you are going through.
Janet: And we want to.
Alexandra: We do. We do. I am the same way. But if you skip over the step of lament, when
you're going through a hard trial or any trial, it's just like putting bandaids on you really do
need... the path to grace in the midst of suffering has to include lament.

Janet: Which is why God gave a third of the Psalms as laments. He's shown us how to do it. He's
shown us that's how we need to deal with suffering.
Alexandra: So true. Okay. So what is lament. Lament is I need to be honest with myself about
the suffering that I'm experiencing, and then I need to be honest with God. So a Psalm that I love,
I love, is Psalm 34 and I actually, I had, as I held my mom's hand that night before she died, I
read Psalm 34 over and over. We see throughout the song, this theme of when the righteous cry
out. God hears and then he responds. So that word cry out, we see it in verses 6, 15 and 17. And
I'll read an example for you guys. Verse six says, "in my desperation, I prayed and the Lord
listened and he saved me from my troubles." Verse 15 says, "the eyes of the Lord, watch over
those who do right. His ears are open to their cries for help." Verse 17, "the Lord hears his people
when they call to him for help, he rescues them from their troubles." So, you know, as we're
talking about crying out the Hebrew word, to cry out, the literal translation means to shriek like a
wounded animal.
Janet: Wow.
Alexandra: It is amazing.
Janet: And we're just not comfortable with that.
Alexandra: It's so uncomfortable. It requires a very deep honesty and vulnerability before God.
Janet: Yeah.
Alexandra: Which is really hard, when you know that he's sovereign over your trial.
Janet: Yes.
Alexandra: So then I think the question is, you know, I'm seeing these promises in scripture, in
Psalm 34, who are the righteous? It says, these... God will do this for the righteous, who are the
righteous?
Janet: What do I have to do?
Alexandra: Right. And as we're talking about suffering, a lot of times we don't respond well to
suffering when it first hits. You know, it's just, I keep saying this, but it can be so messy. The
righteous are those who are in Christ and this is such a beautiful promise. Justification of sins in
positional sanctification, which are two things that are immediate gifts to me, when I get saved, it
means that I don't have to seek to be good enough to receive these promises when I'm suffering.
I'm never going to be good enough to be considered righteous. I miss that mark every single day.
So the righteous are simply those who have been covered by Christ righteousness.

Janet: So I can be bold.
Alexandra: Yes. So we need to wrestle with the reality of God's sovereignty within suffering.
God is powerful enough to stop your suffering, but sometimes he chooses not to. Lament
requires trust. Sometimes in the moment, it is really hard to trust God when you see the pain that
he chooses to allow, and that's where limit comes in. And I have heard, not pastors at our church,
but I have been in the room with people suffering and having their pastors of their church come
in and I've heard people say things like, you know, this was not God's plan. And then that's, I
want to be like, what are you doing? Don't say that. Because scripture, this is so hard to grapple
with, but scripture does say that God is sovereign over our suffering. Deuteronomy 32:39. Janet,
would you mind reading that verse for me?
Janet: "Look now I, myself, am he. There is no other God, but me. I am the one who kills and
gives life. I am the one who wounds and heals. No one can be rescued from my powerful hand."
Alexandra: When we're going to God lament, we have to be living in that reality of sometimes
God chooses to not prevent this trial from happening.
Janet: But if He's not over it, why would I bother going to him?
Alexandra: Right. Right. Janet, would you read for us first, Peter 4:19.
Janet: "Therefore, let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful
creator while doing good."
Alexandra: And I love how Job, his testimony. When he knew, he knew God's sovereignty and
his suffering. Janet, can you read, Job 13:15 for us, please
Janet: "Though he slay me, I will hope in him."
Alexandra: Oh, I love that. Recently, I was crying out to the Lord. How long a Lord? I have
been praying for some things for years and my prayers haven't been answered yet by the Lord.
And so I literally, it was a Saturday, and I literally in my prayers had said, how long, oh Lord, do
I have to pray this? And to hear you say no, and to know that I need to keep coming back to you
and keep praying. And then the very next Sunday, our pastor preached on John 11 and that's on
the story of Lazarus. I'm not going to go deep into that story, but if you're in that place of how
long a Lord and struggling through God's sovereignty, take a look at that passage because...
Janet: We can link the sermon.
Alexandra: Oh, oh, that's great. Yeah, that's a great idea. But yeah, just recognizing that Jesus
heard that Lazarus was dying and then intentionally waited two days to make sure.

Janet: Which makes no sense on a worldly level.
Alexandra: Not at all. Our logic.
Janet: Yes.
Alexandra: We would never do that.
Janet: Right.
Alexandra: And then recognizing why he did this, like to ensure his death. And he was grieved
by Mary and Martha's suffering. I mean that famous verse, the shortest verse in the Bible, "Jesus
wept." It wasn't because Lazarus died. He knew what was going to happen. Lazarus was about to
be raised from the dead, but, knowing that he allowed that suffering and then that suffering was
causing pain for Mary and Martha. It shows his compassion as we lament to him. And the result
of that, you can even go to the next chapter, the next two chapters and see that, Lazarus'
resurrection from the dead was causing so many conversions that the Pharisees were like, okay,
now we're going to kill Jesus and Lazarus.
Janet: Yep.
Alexandra: So good. So anyways, I highly recommend studying that passage, doing a deep dive,
if that's where you're at. You know, the topic of lament is a very, very complicated subject. And
I'm not doing it justice right now by just... this is a very simple introduction, I would even say, to
lament. Some good books are, God's Healing for Life Losses by Bob Kellemen with RPM
Ministries. This is a helpful step-by-step approach to understand how to lament and the scripture
to support it. Another book that I really like is Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy by Mark Vroegop. He's
a pastor of College Park Church in Indy. And he really breaks down how and why lament is the
path to experiencing God's grace in your suffering.
Janet: Yes. And it seems ironic, but it's a very hopeful book. Talking about lament and
understanding it it's actually a very helpful book. So I do recommend that.
Alexandra: So let's talk about despair versus sorrow. We have already talked about Jesus in the
garden of Gethsemane. We talked about how and Hebrews 5:7, it says that in the garden, Jesus
wailed loudly with tears as he cried out to God. So God has space for our sorrow. I don't want
anyone to walk away, and I hope I'm making a fairly good point of saying, like that God doesn't
want us to just pull ourselves up by our bootstraps when we're suffering. God himself suffered
and lamented to the father and God has space for that. But you know, despair is different than
sorrow because I can experience joy within my sorrow, but I can not experience joy within
despair. So Janet, when we talk about despair, how would you define despair?

Janet: When I think about the difference, with despair, there's a hopelessness. I need something
that I cannot have. I'm in despair, because if I can't have that, if what I need to survive is for my
mother not to die, then I am hopeless and in despair.
Alexandra: And so how does despair happen? I think it happens when we have put our security
and our hope in an idol.
Janet: Yeah.
Alexandra: And then that idol fails us.
Janet: And the idol can be a wonderful thing.
Alexandra: It can be. Yup.
Janet: It just can't be the main thing.
Alexandra: One sign that you were in despair could be is if you are struggling with a maybe low
grade simmering anger. I'm not talking about righteous anger, because some people have been
sinned against in heinous ways, and we should be angry at that. That is wrong. I'm talking about
an anger with God, a noisy soul and a lack of peace. So this leads us to step two, which is repent
from my idolatry. Suffering shows us our idols. Trials are to be considered an opportunity for
joy. When trials come one of the reasons it is an opportunity for joy is because it's an opportunity
to repent. Janet, would you read James one verses two through four for me, please?
Janet: Sure. "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. For, you know,
that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness and let steadfastness have its full effect that
you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing."
Alexandra: So I think it can be confusing to look at a trial and say, okay, I need to be joyful.
Janet: Woo-hoo.
Alexandra: Yeah. That's definitely not... it's not a woo-hoo circumstance.
Janet: Right.
Alexandra: I like how Heath Lambert, what he has to say about this. He says, "we are not called
to rejoice at suffering in and of itself. Suffering is bad. Suffering is hard, and suffering often
comes at the hands of wicked people. Therefore, we do not rejoice in suffering because we love
the suffering in and of itself. We rejoice in suffering because we look forward to what God is
able to do through our suffering, Paul in Romans 5:1-5 celebrated the fact that even though our
sufferings and afflictions, even through them, God is bringing about endurance, proven character
and hope."

Janet: Beautiful.
Alexandra: So when we get hit with a trial of any size, we tend to feel two things. One, we tend
to immediately feel weak or helpless. And two the pain of the situation. So in response, so those
two things we will go to what we think will give us strength when we feel weak and helpless or
what we think will give us comfort in response to the situation.
Janet: Okay. Hang on. Just stop there for a minute. Cause I think that's really important. Trials
cause us to feel helpless because I can't stop it and I can't control it and it hurts. So true.
Naturally, now we're looking for ways. How can I feel stronger? How can I feel in control? How
can I try to end this trial? And in the middle of the trial, I'm looking for, how can I feel better?
Alexandra: Ideally the answer to that is Yahweh. But in reality, most of the time, that's not the
first place that I turn to.
Janet: No, me neither.
Alexandra: It's important to know the idols will always over promise and under-deliver every
single time, God is a way to loving, to allow us to experience joy when we worship something
besides him. It would be cruel of him to allow that in our lives.
Janet: Yeah.
Alexandra: Isaiah 42:8 says, "I am Yahweh. That is my name, my glory. I give to no other. Nor
my praise to carved idols." So the biggest obstacle to our joy is not our hard circumstances. It's
our sin. Jesus came to conquer sin and we have to make that connection that God is glorified
greatly when I'm deeply satisfied within my relationship with him. John 10:10 says that "the thief
comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I" meaning Jesus "came that they may have life and have it
abundantly." Our suffering can be a blessing because it shows how desperate we really are.
Janet: Yeah.
Alexandra: Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Wolgemuth now. she once said, "though, my natural instinct is
to wish for a life free from pain, trouble, and adversity." And don't, we all relate to that.
Janet: Yeah, absolutely.
Alexandra: "I am learning to welcome anything that makes me conscious of my need for him. If
prayer is birthed out of desperation than anything that makes me desperate for God is a blessing."
Janet: Wow.
Alexandra: Puritan Pastor William Gurnall makes this point in his writing. "The hungry man
needs no help to teach them how to beg." So a way to summarize that is whatever brings me to

my knees, when I am painfully aware that I need God, I can rejoice in this. And I hope that I'm
not coming across as insensitive because I am sure that some of our listeners are going through
unspeakably deep waters today. But God's word offers us hope, no matter what hard
circumstance that we're going through.
Janet: Well, being close to him is what's best for my soul. So even if it's that pain that draws me
closer to him, that is loving, because it makes me. I can rejoice in that because he is what my
soul needs.
Alexandra: Yes. Yes. So to summarize this point, you know, suffering really does reveal exactly
where my heart is. It pulls the veils away, honestly in ways that nothing else can. Only suffering
can really reveal our hearts to that depth. And our response really needs to be in suffering to be
self examining and repenting when the Holy Spirit shows us the idols that we are tempted to turn
to. Okay. Now step three is applying truth. So this is meditating, memorizing, and applying truth
from God's word and it trains my brain to trust in God. So I'm not saying emotionally I'm totally
feeling cool with God right now. It's I'm working on as I'm going through something hard I'm
recognizing, and it's a little bit hard to trust him right now probably.
Janet: Yep.
Alexandra: I am training my brain though.
Janet: For why I should.
Alexandra: Yes, exactly.
Janet: Yup.
Alexandra: So if we're wanting to know, you know, part of it is does God care? That's something
that is...
Janet: Yeah. Wrestle with.
Alexandra: Absolutely.
Janet: If he loved me, why would he allow this? Does he really care?
Alexandra: And the answer to that is I need to look to the cross. John Stott once said, "the real
sting of suffering is not misfortune itself, nor even the pain of it or the injustice of it. But the
apparent God forsakenness of it." Hear, apparent. "Pain is endurable, but the seeming
indifference of God is not. We think of him as an armchair spectator, almost gloating over the
world's suffering and enjoying his own insulation from it. It is this terrible caricature of God that
the cross smashes to smithereens."

Janet: Oh, I love that. I love that. I've called that hanging out at the cross. There are times when I
need to kneel by my bed and I will tell the Lord, I just need to hang out at the cross. When my
soul is battling with what God has allowed in my life, I need to literally do that. That's when I
can acknowledge to God that nothing I can see in my life right now is telling me that you care.
But when I remember the cross, when I really remember it and meditate on it, I don't just go. I
know. Yeah. But what now? When I really meditate on that, I can come to no other conclusion,
but he really does care. Why would he do that? Why was he willing to be forsaken by God? Why
was he willing to experience all of that? And then it just takes some time as I hang out at the
cross to wrestle my soul down to believe that beautiful truth.
Alexandra: I love that. So two things when I'm going through something hard. If you're thinking,
okay, well, where do I even start? The Bible's a big book. Lots of little books. Where do I even
start in applying truth? For me two areas that I know that I really need to remember when
something hard is happening is God's goodness and that God offers satisfaction. So in God's
goodness, two verses that I really love. One is my life theme verse it's Psalm 119:68. It says,
"you are good and you do only good." And I have to constantly submit myself under that truth.
Another one is Psalm 16:2. "You are my Lord. I have no good apart from you." And we covered,
episode one is on the topic of joy. We broke down. Janet broke down Psalm 16. So if you, if that
kind of attracts your mind a little bit, I highly suggest going back and relistening to that episode
because, we really broke down that Psalm. Like I said, God's satisfaction is another truth that I
need to remember in the midst of suffering. I love Psalm 145:16-19. I'm not going to go through
the whole thing, but it starts with, "you open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living
thing."
Janet: Wow, what a beautiful thought.
Alexandra: That's a promise. Again, Psalm 16:11, "you make known to me the path of life in
your presence there is fullness of joy and at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Janet: And it's really good. I think at this point, when you see that verse, if you're thinking, well,
I'm not experiencing the fullness of joy. Right, I'm not in his presence yet. It's coming, it's worth
waiting for, and in the meantime, I have the down payment of his Spirit. So there is joy. And
when I'm in his presence, there will be fullness of joy.
Alexandra: So we need to look through the promises of God, specifically in scripture. If you
want to hear God speak, open your Bible.
Janet: Yes.
Alexandra: We cannot attach promises to God that are not supported in scripture. I'm going to
give an example. A couple of years ago, we went through a failed adoption, and that was very
challenging for us.

Janet: Painful.
Alexandra: It was very, very painful. And after it happened. I had a few people say to me, well,
don't worry, God has your baby picked out for you. And you know what? I appreciate the intent,
but that was not helpful for me in the moment, because there was no guarantee and scripture that
God's will was for me to adopt a baby. I knew it was his will for me to pursue adoption. I could
not point to a chapter in verse that said "Alexandra Nitzschke is going to adopt a baby on this
date."
Janet: Yes.
Alexandra: So it's not truth.
Janet: Right.
Alexandra: I need, I couldn't be finding my hope in that. Now, if I did adopt and we later did
adopt.
Janet: Now we know that.
Alexandra: Yes, exactly. But that was not where I needed to put my hope, because that would, it
was not secure enough. For me, Psalm 84:11 was so comforting. It says, "for the Lord God is a
sun and a shield. The Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those
who walk uprightly."
Janet: Amen.
Alexandra: So I was able to look at that painful situation and say if it was best for that child to be
raised by our family, God will not withhold that from that child.
Janet: Yes.
Alexandra: If it was best for us to be able to adopt this baby, God will not withhold it from us.
And because we did not get to adopt that baby boy, it was not best. It's hard to grapple with that,
but that's the type of thinking that will yield peaceful fruit.
Janet: Yeah, it reminds me of something my son did. When he was about four, we had a precious
friend watching both of our kids for the weekend while my husband and I got away. She was
married and hadn't been able to have kids of her own, and to her credit one of her ministries was
watching other people's children so they could get away. So they're at breakfast and my little four
year old asks her at the kitchen table. Do you have kids?
Alexandra: Oh no.

Janet: I know he has no idea. And so she says no. And then he, of course, why not? Very painful
question I'm sure. But she knew that he had no idea. And then he says, don't you want them?
Ouch. And she said, yes, but we haven't been able to have them. And then my little four year old
says, well, it must not be best for you because if it was, God would give them to you.
Alexandra: Wow.
Janet: Now...
Alexandra: Out of the mouth of babes.
Janet: Easy for a four year old to say who had never experienced a great deal of pain. I made sure
she was okay. But she said, actually, I wish other people said that to me.
Alexandra: Wow. Wow.
Janet: Yeah.
Alexandra: You know, I think. It's really tempting to put our trust in favorable circumstances, but
we really do need to put our trust in specific promises from scripture. So promises that I find to
be helpful. Again, I talked about Psalm 34. We see over and over again that if I, someone who's
covered by the righteousness of Christ, if I cry out to God. He will hear me and he will move on
my behalf. He does not promise to set me free from my circumstances, but he does promise to set
me free from the enslaving fears surrounding that situation. So leading up to my mom's death,
you know, as I was reading this song, it was like, it says, you know, "cry out to the Lord, he
answered and set me free." Or"he, delivered me for my troubles" and it's like, well, what I'm
fearing, my trouble, is like, I don't want my mom to pass away. Well, that's going to happen.
Janet: Right.
Alexandra: So how has that promise apply to my life? Well, it's the enslavement surrounding that
circumstance that he promises that he will deliver me from. God promises joy to those who trust
in him. In verse 5 of Psalm 34, it says, "those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy."
I think of Moses, when he beheld, yes.
Janet: And his face glowed.
Alexandra: He was... he just beheld the swish of God. You know, like his, he was radiant. So it
says, "those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy. No shadow of shame will darken
their faces." And then I think of Galatians 5 verses 22 and 23. "The fruit of the spirit is love joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness. Self-control. Against such things
there is no law." God literally says a fruit of a relationship with me is joy.

Janet: Yes.
Alexandra: And so, knowing that that is possible for me, allows me to trust him as I walk the
path of suffering. God has very good purposes for allowing suffering. Jerry Bridges says, "every
adversity that comes across our path, whether large or small is intended to help us grow in some
way, if it were not beneficial, God will not allow it or send it." Lamentations 3:33, "for he does
not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men." God does not delight in our
sufferings. He brings only that, which is necessary. But he does not shrink from that, which will
help us grow.
Janet: He's the perfect father.
Alexandra: Yeah. And it reminds me of that quote from the Chronicles of Narnia. "He is not safe,
but he's good."
Janet: Yes.
Alexandra: I had prayed that God would allow me to hate the sin of anorexia. So this is going
back to like my first half of my testimony of, you know, struggling with eating disorders. Like
for the longest time I prayed that, you know, as I walked in repentance, like, God I'll follow you,
but help me to hate this sin. But I told him that, you know, even if you never took this desire
away, God, this temptation, please give me grace to obey and choose you over my temptations.
And that had been a prayer for a long time. And as I sat with my mom, as she was dying for a
few hours, it was just me and her right before she died. And I looked at my mom and she was
truly just a skeleton. Just skin and bones, cause of being sick.
Janet: Right.
Alexandra: And I realized in that moment that I had spent over a decade trying to look like a
cancer patient.
Janet: Wow.
Alexandra: Now I still struggle with the underlying idols that led to my eating disorders. So this
is control, power, fear of man. But because of that situation, I just realized in that moment, that is
disgusting.
Janet: Yeah.
Alexandra: I was disgusted by anorexia, but if I hadn't gone through that suffering, if I hadn't
been sitting next to someone that I loved so dearly, who is suffering. I'm not sure that I would
view anorexia with the same amount of hatred.

Janet: Wow.
Alexandra: Even in one of the worst moments of my life, watching my mom die, God was giving
me the desires of my heart in that moment. Of answering my prayer of hating my old sin. God
can use any trial to make us more like Christ.
Janet: Oh, Alexandra. God is so good. I know, I really don't understand the pain that was
involved, that God allowed. And I'm not going to pretend that I do, but the beauty that he
continues to bring from it. It is so supernatural. I feel like I know your mom because I know you,
but I didn't really have the privilege of knowing her on my own. But from what I know about. I
am confident that she had been praying for you. And I'm confident that she had been also
begging God to free you from your enslavement to anorexia, because your mom loved Jesus and
she loved you. A mama so wants to see her child loving and trusting God. I'm confident she
would have been thanking God that one of the ways he used her cancer was also answering her
prayer for you to be free from it that.
Alexandra: That is so powerful. So, as we wrap up this. Step four is waiting and hope for that joy
that we just talked about. Knowing that God promises that fruit to the believer, if you're walking
his path, walking in the Spirit. Step four is wait and hope. So joy will not come immediately. We
totally live in a microwave culture.
Janet: That is true.
Alexandra: But if I sow seeds of faith, I will reap a harvest of joy at God's timing. God will
produce seeds of joy at a time that glorifies him most. I love the NLT version of Galatians 6:7. It
says, "do not be misled. You cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you
plant." Psalm 130 verses five and six can be such a comfort for those of you who may be, at that
place where you're lamenting and seeking repentance and just kind of stuck in those cycles of
like, the trial is just still so hard.
Janet: Yes.
Alexandra: And I don't have the joy yet. Psalm 130 says, "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits.
And in his word, I hope. My soul waits for the Lord." And the goal here is trusting God's perfect
timing for when he will give you that joy. So I think some application, we've given them quite a
bit of the application in this podcast, but, so application questions are asking yourself, am I bitter
at God? Or at other people? Has my suffering brought me closer to God? Or do I really feel like
he is far? Do I have depression or anxiety? And, hear me, I'm not talking about grief and sorrow.
This is way different. Do I have depression and anxiety? A lack of joy and peace? Have I been
struggling with habitual or addictive sin as a way to get through this trial? My advice is, do not
isolate yourself. We all need the body of Christ.

Janet: But when you're suffering, that's when you're tempted to isolate even more when we need
each other more.
Alexandra: So true, cause it feels like nobody understands.
Janet: Yes.
Alexandra: So maybe someone listening needs to ask their mentor to listen to this episode with
you together. And maybe you guys work together on applying it. Remember suffering is messy
and we do need each other. Maybe you're at a place where you're, thinking, ah, my sufferings
pretty complex and I would really benefit from a counselor, an ACBC counselor. We're going to
link in our show notes, a way for you to find an ACBC counselor close to you. And then, I'm like
a broken record here. We really do need the body of Christ. Someone who loves you, but is not
going through it firsthand can often see things that you might not be able to see, but it does take
humility.
Janet: Yeah. So if we're thinking, okay, but what's the next step, because I'm going to guess all of
us realize we can grow in this area. Well, a next step could be reading one of the books that's
already been mentioned earlier, and that will be in the show notes. Maybe read it with a friend so
that you can talk about it. Get some of that community, and as it brings issues in your life, be
able to give you a structure to talk about it. Seek out biblical counseling, if you need some
additional help. Help is available. Do not try to do this alone. We'll give you information about
Vision of Hope in the show notes. It's a great ministry. They're always needing additional interns
to help them minister to women like Alexandra. You can find out how you can help with an
internship or apply to be a resident and we'll give you the information on that. Start by asking
God for help as you work through the four steps that Alexandra just shared. And I think we've
got, we'll list all of the books in all of this in the show notes. So really Alexandra. I just want to
thank you for being vulnerable with us. If we were in person with all of the listeners, I would tell
them to take a minute now and share back to you since you've been vulnerable, I would like them
to share back with you how it was helpful to them. So, if you want to put that in a email to us or
on the Facebook page or Instagram, that would be great. God is a God of great hope and I pray
that hearing how he brought you to a place of joy and hope in your suffering is going to
encourage our listeners too. And listener, if you've been encouraged by this podcast, we would
love it if you could leave us a review because we want others to find this information, we really
believe it will be helpful. And we hope that you'll join us for our next episode, as we continue to
see that no matter what our circumstances are, biblical truth really is the pathway to joy.

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Spotify. You can also visit us on our Facebook page or Instagram at Joyful Journey Podcast. If
you have questions or comments for us, you can email us at
joyfuljourneyquestions@outlook.com. Joyful Journey Podcast is a ministry of Faith Bible
Seminary. All proceeds go to offset costs of this podcast and toward scholarships for women to
receive their MABC through Faith Bible Seminary.
Host Janet and her husband, Brent, also speak at a variety of conferences as a way to raise money
for the seminary. If you want to look at what they offer or book them for a conference, go to their
website.

Janet Aucoin

Bio

Janet is the Director of Women's Ministries at Faith Church (Lafayette, IN); ACBC certified; teacher in Faith Community Institute; Coordinator of FBS seminary wives fellowship, retreat and conference speaker; B.S. Human Resources, University of South Florida.