Crop group stacking hands together

From Suffering to Supporting Others

At our Greater Things virtual conference last month, my Friday evening keynote reminded us how to respond when the unforeseen interrupts our well-developed plan. I shared a powerful alliteration through my own experiences which I’ve shared with you over the last few weeks, wrapping it up today.


Last week I shared with you my experience of Christ’s sufficiency in my weakness, today I want to share with you the final “s”.


THE THIRD “S” STANDS FOR SUPPORT because we are ALL called to SUPPORT others with what we learn on our journey with the Lord.

Last October I was in the middle of one of the biggest battles I could have ever imagined, mostly emotionally. I just kept feeling like I was circling the drain. It was the strangest sensation I’d ever felt, but the enemy was whispering a pretty convincing story of failure. I was practically in a fetal position feeling like my faith was going to fail… I was undone – my faith teetered on the edge of despair… but as this scripture came to me out in the gazebo on the conference center grounds, the power of this verse literally talked me off the ledge, as I recognized that HE was praying for ME so that my faith may not fail…

I couldn’t remember the address of the verse, I just kept hearing in my heart, “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.” I scrambled to my Bible and found it in Luke 22:31-32. The verse absolutely jumped off the page.

31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Some translations say that Satan has demanded to… The Greek word for demand is exaiteo – and it means to demand in a bad sense for torture or for punishment. It speaks of Satan asking the apostles out of the power and keeping of God, to be tried by afflictions (with an allusion being made to Job 1:1-12).

But that’s not all. The Greek root word for “sift” is siniazo and it means by inward agitation to try one’s faith to the verge of overthrow.

Did ya’ll get that? The enemy of our souls demands to sift us as wheat with evil intent, but Jesus prays for us that our faith may not be overthrown by Satan’s test. He expects us to come out the other end of this test so that the comfort He has given us we can give to others.

So, no matter what your story is, God is using it to refine you, to strengthen your faith, and to teach you lessons that others need to hear. He will strengthen you through those who walk with you, through Christ’s power being strong in your weakness, and Jesus Himself will intercede for you even as you are being sifted, and then He calls us once we turn back to Him to go and strengthen others.

Satan will do everything he can to prevent us from walking out our calling. Whether it’s writing, speaking, editing, or serving God with whatever gifts He has given us, we must make the choice to trust God in our calling bringing glory to His Name with our life and our words.

When we allow the enemy to hinder our calling, we must be quick to recognize and repent for missing it as we humble ourselves. Then we will see every way He has brought good out of our situation, and He will in turn strengthen us by using our sisters in Christ. We experience God’s grace as He pours strength into our weakness, and as He intercedes for us. It is with this very story Jesus is asking us to turn around and strengthen our sisters.

As I wrap up this piece on suffering, sufficiency and support, God gave me a wonderful example of how He loves to use my struggles to encourage others. I was working on my weekly newsletter and really struggling with recounting how difficult our 3-month sabbatical was the first quarter of the year. I didn’t feel right about pretending everything was wonderful … because it wasn’t.

My husband struggled with watching a ministry he’d poured his life into over 30+ years devalue his contribution. Lots of grieving for him. Lots of anger for me over the way he was treated by those he trusted. Then God began speaking to my heart about what He expected of me when people betray … pray … bless … do good to. All the things I didn’t want to do.

I kept feeling like giving up and writing on something easier. But He just wouldn’t let me. Then the whispers of “no one wants to hear about this, just do something else”… it took a while but I finally figured out that this was a spiritual battle and the enemy did not want me to tell this story. That invigorated me and helped me cross the finish line, recounting the pain in a way that told of the story of the betrayal without being inflammatory or bitter. I posted it on FB before sending it to my email list and within just a few minutes I received this comment:

Oh wow, wow, wow! This is powerful and it resonated in my heart. Actually, God used it to sound the gong as if to say loudly, “Pay attention!” A few days ago, I read “Empty at the Top.” When I finished it, I decided to re-read “Full Circle.” Your testimony is making so much more sense to me as I read these back-to-back. This morning I just finished the chapter about “the parallels of guerilla warfare of the Vietnam war to the strategies and tactics used by the enemy of our soul.” This past week the Lord has had me on an inner healing journey of processing through my previous church hurts & spiritual abuse. I asked this morning where have I been vulnerable to the enemy? And the Scripture about God’s grace being sufficient, the Lord’s given to me multiple times. So, I thank you for this confirming message of hope as I process through another round of healing from past wounds! Blessings to you!  

That one comment turned into a long, private conversation that filled me with gratitude. I’m so thankful I didn’t give up on being vulnerable and posted the words I knew He was giving me.

This also bolstered my faith to keep moving forward with the other books I plan on writing. I always put helping others with their stories in front of my own writing and God is clearly calling me to make time for both! So, I am waiting on Him with great expectation!

And so, we come full circle. As we learn to SUFFER well, lean on the SUFFICIENCY of His grace, and get ready to SUPPORT others with the insight we gain through our tough seasons. We can remain confident that He will never waste our pain, and He will strengthen us as He refines and sanctifies us. Not only is He working all things together for good but doing it so that we will be conformed to the likeness of Christ.

Oh, that we might steward our suffering well that it might produce good fruit for His Kingdom!

So, before I sign off, how has He used your struggles to support others and extend the comfort He has provided for you? I’d love to hear!

Thanks for hanging out with me today!


Athena Dean Holtz
Welcome, I'm Athena!

I start each day by tithing the first hour to the Lord in prayer, reading the word, doing word studies of the Text, and asking God how I can live out what I am reading. This time is usually met with meditation on devotionals that are usually written by dead guys like Oswald Chambers, CS Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, AW Tozer, and Andrew Murray.

Right now, I’m reading a daily devotional with a friend called Tozer on the Almighty God for my focus for the day. It's fun to see individually what pulls us in to spur one another on to good deeds!

The Bible is filled with action steps to walk out in practical and intentional ways. This sets my day in motion to walk it out! I hope this is your heart, too.

Consider this a personal invitation to join me in this journey!

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