Kingdom Women: Amy Carmichael-Yes, Lord, to Suffering-Guest Post by Lesa Engelthaler
Throughout the next year I will post an ongoing series on Kingdom Women—women God has used and is using in His great Kingdom endeavor. We will meet these women in God’s Word, in the early church, in the dark ages, in the past great missionary efforts and among today’s true followers of Jesus. Today we meet Amy Carmichael
Several years ago I spent two months in bed diagnosed with the onset of what the doctors could only surmise was Multiple Sclerosis. Although many people took care of me, one woman in particular ministered in a way that challenged me to change the way I viewed suffering.
I never met this woman, but in the dark hours I found comfort in the words of her books. Why? Because she had lived where I lived. She had suffered more than I could ever imagine, and she spoke honestly about her frustrations.
That woman was Amy Carmichael. All Amy Carmichael ever wanted to do was serve, but she had to learn an even harder lesson—to be served. She said with a touch of humor, “I had so fully expected to be like the old ox in Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, who ‘kep’ a goin’ an’ a goin’ till he died a-standin’ up, and even then they had to push him over.’”
In the early 1900’s, Amy Carmichael spent her life rescuing children in India from temple prostitution. The care of these orphans demanded everything she had. Yet Amy loved the work so much that she hoped to do it until she died. God had another plan. Although she prayed for healing many times, Amy spent her last 20 years confined to bed.
When she could do nothing but stare at the ceiling, Amy still kept the motto: servant of all. How could she serve from bed? By writing. Amy Carmichael wrote hundreds of letters to encourage others. Feeling useless, she prayed, “Take from me all slothfulness that I may fill up the crevices of time and truly finish all He wants me to do.”
Amy filled the crevices of her time by writing more than 35 books. She might never have written them had she “kep’ a’ goin’” like the old ox. Yet because Amy could do nothing but write, you and I are the recipients of her thoughts even today.
As a young missionary, Amy had two words written on the wall: “Yes, Lord.” Little did she know that small prayer would include so much pain.
In Amy’s lovely Candles in the Dark she writes to a friend, “All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness. All does not mean, all but these paths we are in now. All must mean all. So your path with its unexplained sorrow, and mine with its unexplained sharp flints and briers . . . are just lovingkindness, nothing less.”
For those who are on a painful path, Amy’s words bring comfort -- not by the well to the ill, but by the ill to the ill -- all over the world.
(Apparently misdiagnosed with MS, Lesa recovered and never had another sclerosis, but the experience forever changed her view on suffering.)
Lesa Engelthaler is a writer in Dallas, Texas. She is also a senior associate at Victory Search Group, assisting nonprofits to recruit executive leaders, and she serves on the Circle of Friends Board for New Friends New Life that helps women and girls escape prostitution. Follow her on Twitter @lengelthaler.
Lesa’s two favorite books by Amy Carmichael are, If and Candles in the Dark. For an excellent biography on Amy’s life, Lesa recommends, A Chance To Die by Elisabeth Elliot. (And so does Judy.)