95: Nancy Guthrie | God Does His Best Work With Empty

Nancy Guthrie | God Does His Best Work With Empty

Nancy Guthrie | God Does His Best Work With Empty

Nancy Guthrie teaches the Bible at her church, Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Franklin, Tennessee, at conferences worldwide, and through numerous books and video series.

She and her husband, David, are the cohosts of the GriefShare video series used in more than 12,000 churches nationwide and host Respite Retreats for couples who have experienced the death of a child.

Guthrie is also the host of Help Me Teach the Bible, a podcast of the Gospel Coalition.

Nancy Guthrie joins me to discuss how God filled her emptiness after the loss of baby Hope and Gabriel, how God demonstrates He does His best work with empty through the Scriptures, and her passion for God’s Word.

Questions Nancy and I Discussed:

  1. (8:32) God Does His Best Work With Empty was born out of your own personal experience and the respite retreats you lead with your husband. For those unfamiliar with your family’s story of loss and your ministry, will you share that with us?
  2. (15:39) How did the idea that God does His best work with empty come about? 
  3. (18:57) You write, “Sometimes your sense of emptiness haunts you as an undefined yet relentless ache. At other times it overwhelms you as an undeniable agony. It is amazing to me how heavy the weight of emptiness can feel, how much room emptiness can take up in our souls, how much pain can be caused by something that isn’t even there.” What are some ways you began working through the emptiness experienced when you lost your children?
  4. (24:26) As you began to trace the theme of emptiness in the Bible, what were some things that jumped out at you?
  5. (28:41) You point out 8 ways God fills our emptiness.  One of those is God fills our emptiness with His grace. Will you share how the story of Naomi demonstrates that truth?
  6. (33:08) You clearly love God’s Word and have been faithful to teach it to women in your local church, around the world and now are generously teaching other women how to study and teach it.  Share a little of how you’ve seen God develop that love, that passion in you over the years.
  7. (38:35) How do you go about deciding which book in the Bible you’re going to teach?
  8. (43:54) Listener question from Allison McCoy: How do you avoid being moralistic when teaching the Bible, but still make applications for your audience?

Quotes to Remember:

“On her second day of life, the geneticists told us, we think she has Zellweger syndrome, and there is no treatment for that, and no cure and most children with this syndrome live less than six months.”

“Our son Gabriel was born in July 2001 and was with us a similar amount of time as Hope. He was with us 183 days and then we said goodbye to him.”

“That first respite retreat, I remember looking around that circle and saying to those couples, ‘I know that there is an incredible aching emptiness in your lives. There is an empty bedroom at your house and an empty place at the table and an empty place in the family photo and an empty place in your future plans and your plans for your family and I know that you probably look at that emptiness, and you see it as your greatest problem. But I want to convince you that’s not how God sees it, that when God looks at this empty place in your life, He sees it as His greatest opportunity.”

“If you continue to read the first chapter of the Bible, you realize emptiness was not a problem to God. All He had to do is speak and He filled the emptiness. He filled the emptiness with such wonderful things, with life and light, and beauty, and abundance and relationship and purpose and meaning.”

“I was desperate for something real with God. I was desperate to not feel like a hypocrite, desperate to not be at church on Sundays, but never in God’s word throughout the week. And so I made that commitment and over the eight years that I was in BSF the word really went to work in me and changed me.”

“I can’t imagine doing anything more significant with my life than teaching the Bible.”

“I started getting asked a lot to come and speak and tell my story. Immediately, it was kind of a crisis to me to figure out, ‘Okay, I don’t want to just go tell my story. I want to figure out, how do I use my story to tell God’s story.'”

“My story might have the power to move someone, inspire someone, but there’s only one story that has the power to make dead people alive and that is the story of the gospel that flows out of the Scriptures.”

“To my dying day, I want to be seeking to be a good steward of what He’s entrusted to me and not for a return for my kingdom, but a return for His Kingdom.”

“If my love for Him is increased, if I admire Him more, and adore Him more, and my heart is more engaged with His, the other things fall into place.”

Scripture References:

  • The Wise and Foolish Builders: Matthew 7: 24-29
  • Genesis 3
  • Genesis 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
  • Ruth: story of Naomi

Resources Mentioned:

Related Episodes:

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Nancy Guthrie Quote | God Does His Best Work With Empty
Nancy Guthrie Quote | God Does His Best Work With Empty
Nancy Guthrie Quote | God Does His Best Work With Empty
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