Esther Ahn Kim: Courageous through Suffering

In this biography episode, we’ll dive into the life of a little-known saint: Esther Ahn Kim. She was faithful to the Lord, to her family, and to her country, Korea. Her story takes place in the years preceding and during World War II, when Korea was under Japanese rule. Through Esther Ahn Kim’s story, we are transported to a different time and place, but her faith story is still just as challenging and encouraging today.

After counting the cost, Esther Ahn Kim’s devotion to Christ landed her in prison.
*Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

Esther Ahn Kim was brave, but her bravery came from the Lord, who took care of her at every turn. She was devoted, but her devotion came from the inner strength of the Holy Spirit. She prepared to suffer and disciplined herself to endure all that she must for the sake of being faithful to her Lord. Her story has much to teach us.

The material for this podcast episode came from two main sources: Esther Ahn Kim’s book, If I Perish, and Noel Piper’s book, Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God. If you would like to learn more about Esther Ahn Kim’s story, her biography, If I Perish, is an easy and exciting read. There is so much more shared in her book than I was able to convey in a podcast episode.

I loved so much about Esther Ahn Kim’s story, but what I found most compelling was how she counted the cost of her actions and always found Jesus worth the consequences. What stands out to you about her story? I’d love to hear about it! Comment below or on PRN’s Facebook page. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, consider listening to one of these previous biography episodes:

Gladys Aylward: http://pauserenewnext.com/2018/12/04/woman-on-a-mission-the-story-of-gladys-aylward/

Sojourner Truth: http://pauserenewnext.com/2019/01/22/tall-within-the-story-of-sojourner-truth/

Josephine Butler: http://pauserenewnext.com/2019/04/02/an-advocate-for-the-exploited-the-josephine-butler-story/

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Small Enough: An Interview with Betsy Bolick

My friend Betsy is small in stature but is a powerhouse of the faith. It is my joy and privilege to share her story on this week’s podcast episode. In our conversation, Betsy discusses ways that disability and weakness have affected her life both physically and spiritually. She is honest about her daily struggles, but equally honest about how the Lord sustains her through them.

Betsy Bolick, my guest in this week’s podcast episode and founder of Small Enough Ministries.

Betsy says that, through the process of lamenting and questioning the Lord about the way He formed her, God showed her that He made her “small enough” for the purpose that He had for her. Betsy has since started a non-profit called Small Enough Ministries, through which she ministers to college athletes, leads Bible studies, and speaks at events. She also has a podcast that focuses on encouraging women through the study of God’s Word.

During this podcast episode, Betsy shares a passage of Scripture that is particularly meaningful for her:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

II Corinthians 4: 16-18

When asked about resources she would recommend, Betsy said that she highly recommends any book by Elisabeth Elliot or Joni Eareckson Tada. She also loves The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Currently, she is reading and loving a book about lament called Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy by Mark Vroegop.

I absolutely loved this interview, and I hope you come away from it encouraged in your faith. If it resonates with you in some way, please leave a comment below or join the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

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Seen and Unseen

One evening, while wandering the perimeter of our property, my husband and I enjoyed a few moments of quiet conversation together. With four boys, moments of relative quiet are to be savored, and I was doing just that. Suddenly, my husband pulled out his phone and pointed it at the sky. “What are you doing?,” I asked, surprised that in the midst of a conversation he could be so easily distracted. “I’m checking for planets with this app on my phone,” he replied. “Look, it will show you the planets and stars in orbit.” He passed me the phone, and I looked for myself. Sure enough, with the help of the app, we found Mars and Jupiter in the night sky.

Seen and Unseen: visions in the night sky

As often happens, my mind takes everyday occurrences and turns them into spiritual or relational metaphors. This instance was no different. It occurred to me that those planets and stars had been present throughout the day, but had remained unseen. Why? Because the Sun, our planet’s favorite star, shines so brightly, it blinds us to the presence of the others. It’s only when the Sun sets, and we can peer into the dark corridors of space, that we are able to see far-off stars and planets.

In II Corinthians 4, Paul writes about the perspective of what is seen and what is unseen in relation to suffering. He encourages his readers to look not at what is seen, but at what is unseen. He does not deny that suffering exists, or wish it away with platitudes of faith. What he does do, is put it into perspective declaring that these “light and momentary trials are working for us an eternal weight of glory.” He closes the chapter challenging his readers to “fix their eyes” on what is unseen, because what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

I relate to this analogy personally. In this season of my life, I am struggling to make sense of and hold onto truth while coming to terms with physical conditions that are worsening over time. Will I choose to hold onto what is “seen” or what is “unseen” about the situation? Certainly, both are real factors. I cannot wish away the facts. I have to learn to live with and manage what is “seen” about the situation.

Still, in Christ, I know that behind the scenes, much more is at work. Even if I never know the entirety of the story this side of heaven, I can remind myself that these days of discomfort are just “light and momentary.” What is unseen by the eye, but perceived by the Spirit is an “eternal weight of glory” at the end of the race.

Just as the Sun shines brightly through the day lighting up all that we see, we can know with the same surety that at night, through darkness, stars will shine. Darkness, or the “unseen,” is where we grow in faith most, learning the art of hope, and clinging more closely to the promises of Scripture.

II Corinthians 4:18

Pause: Breathe in. Breathe out. Read II Corinthians 4 and meditate on any verses that resonate with you in this chapter.

Renew: As you think about your own life, is there a trial or struggle that you can relate to in reading this chapter? What about the situation or trial is seen and temporary? What might be unseen and eternal?

Next: Pray this week that the Lord would give you renewed perspective about this situation. Ask Him to help you fix your eyes on what is unseen and eternal.

May we be renewed day by day, and have eyes to see with eternal perspective!

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Never Alone

I think there is a good reason that the apostle Paul never names his infamous “thorn in the flesh.” By not giving it a name or a condition, we can all place our own suffering experience into the text and relate to his pain. Although I am not an expert on the subject of suffering, I certainly can relate to a thorn in the flesh. Mine happens to be in the form of joint instability and the pain that goes with it. I too have asked for my thorn to be removed. Although I hope that one day I am healed, for now, the Lord is slowly teaching me that His grace really is sufficient.

My “thorn in the flesh” journey began about six years ago. A year or two into the journey, I remember a day that I took a walk in the woods. As I walked, I was thinking and praying, and honestly feeling pretty sorry for myself. Any time I took a walk my dog, Todd, a black lab mix, walked with me. He was so enthusiastic, running ahead, chasing all the smells and noises, but constantly making sure that he was near me.  He would double back around to check in with me, before chasing the next smell.

A loyal companion

I was contemplating how faithful my dog was to me, when I felt the Lord impress on my spirit that He was the same way.  I might be going through suffering, but I would not do it alone. The Lord was with me, and He had given me a family (and dog) who loved me and would walk with me on this journey.

As time passes, even though I feel that I grow wiser, somehow I find that I need to be reminded of truths that the Lord has taught me before. Flash forward to this week, when the Lord did a similar thing for me again. Last week I was experiencing more pain than usual, and with the pain came worry, insecurity, and fear of the future. One afternoon I took a walk and was praying about it. By praying about it, I mean ugly crying and once again having a pity party. As I walked and cried, a phrase from Psalm 91 came into my head: “I will be with him in trouble.” I stopped walking, and pulled out my Bible app to read the whole verse:


“When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.”

Psalm 91:15

Once again, the Lord reassured me that although I was experiencing pain, I was not in it alone.

The promises of Scripture are so rich. When we suffer, we can hold on to God’s promises more tightly, exploring the depths of them more fully.  We serve a dependable God. He is the same today, tomorrow, and forever. My feelings and circumstances change, but His grace and faithfulness don’t waver. I’m so thankful that when our perspective is skewed by pain and fear, He reminds us of His faithfulness.

In Christ, we are never alone.

Pause: Find space in your day that you have time to read, pray, and journal.  Look for promises in Scripture about suffering and God’s faithfulness (or whatever else pertains to your current life situation).

Renew: Write these verses down in a journal so that you can revisit these promises when you need a reminder.  If there are one or two verses that really stand out to you, put them on a 3X5 card and carry them with you or put them in a place that you will see them often.

Next: Take opportunities throughout this week to bring your thoughts and feelings to the Lord in prayer.  Take time to listen for His voice and to spend time in the Bible meditating on what you read there. The Lord has the power to re-frame our perspective about our circumstances.

May you have the reassurance that the Lord goes before you, behind you, and with you, always.

Pause, Renew, Next!