Can I Cultivate Hope When I Feel Empty? With Nancy Guthrie [Episode 135]

It’s amazing how heavy the weight of emptiness can feel, isn’t it?

We can face uncertainty with confidence when we live like Scripture is true. [Click to Tweet]

Often, we try to fill our emptiness with whatever we can. We just want to make that heavy feeling go away. But, friend, God can do His best work in our emptiness, and Nancy Guthrie is here to help us learn how.

Nancy is a Bible teacher and author. Her latest book is called God Does His Best Work With Empty. She and her husband, David, are the co-hosts of the GriefShare video series used in more than 12,000 churches nationwide. Nancy is also the host of Help Me Teach the Bible, a podcast of The Gospel Coalition.

In this 4:13 Podcast episode, Nancy walks you through practical ways to make your emptiness the perfect place to cultivate hope. You’ll begin to see that God really does do His best work with empty—as He fills it with Himself.

Jennifer’s Highlights and Take-Aways

  • On Faith. Nancy says that “the way to face an uncertain future is to take hold of what we know is true. The solid source of what we know is true is found in the Scriptures.” So, to face uncertainty with confidence, we must live like Scripture is true.

    After the loss of two infants, Nancy believed in who God is: He is a healer. She trusted that He would heal her heart. She held on to the words God spoke to Paul during his loss (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). This passage in Scripture reminded her that God is at work when there is a thorn.

    Even so, just like Paul, Nancy would have rather had God take away the pain. She explained how sometimes we don’t hear what we want to hear from God. Paul probably wanted to hear that the thorn would be removed, but God gave him grace instead. Nancy says that instead of taking away the pain, God gives grace to endure faithfully.

    God does His best work with empty. [Click to Tweet]

    Nancy also asked: Does faith only look like believing for a miracle? Is that the only way we have faith? For her, faith didn’t mean proving to God that she believed He could and will do differently. Instead, for Nancy, faith was, being “determined to trust whatever He does, whatever He provides.”

    She wanted to pray for a longer life for her daughter, Hope, but determined she needed to be willing to pray for God’s plan. She asked, “What if longer wasn’t better?” She prayed for better—whatever that was, and asked God, “Give me the grace to trust You with the number of days that You give me.” Nancy learned that faith says, “I trust You, God, to do what is right and whatever You do will be right.”

  • On Emptiness. God is the one who fills emptiness from the very beginning. The Genesis account of creation opens with void, formlessness, darkness, and emptiness. God brought form to formlessness and light to darkness. Nancy says, “He does His best work with empty.” In Scripture, we see God fill empty stomachs and empty wombs. His best work was in the empty womb of the virgin Mary.

    Emptiness is inherent to living life in a broken world. We are all looking for ways to fill that emptiness. We can choose to fill it with junk, but then there’s no room for work that God intends to do. Nancy describes how the Israelites thought food would fill their emptiness. But Moses reminded them that God let them hunger so they would know they don’t live by bread alone, but by the Word. Like Jesus in the wilderness, God works through His Word and it fills up the emptiness.

    Satan tempts us to fill our empty places by illegitimate means. God’s Word is what we can depend on to fill our emptiness. To be filled, we need to read Scripture for more than inspiration. We need to read for understanding. When we gain understanding, we recognize implications and discover what it means for us.

    We need to chew on God’s Word, so it becomes part of the way we think. Nancy says that as Scripture “begins to change how we think, then it changes how we feel.” The Bible sanctifies our behavior, purifies our thoughts, and it shapes how we feel. We need to approach God’s Word like it is a good meal—chew it slowly, savor, digest, and let it nourish us.

  • On Hope. It can feel like things won’t change. But your story isn’t over. The hope the Bible holds out to us is that God will work in the worst of circumstances by giving you the grace to face what God doesn’t take away. He will fill you with confidence that things won’t be this way forever.

    “We borrow into the present this future joy and peace,” Nancy says. “As we put our hope in it, it begins to fill up our present now with hope and confidence that strengthens us to face the worst of today.”

Friend, earth is short, but heaven is long—it’s forever. Your present suffering “is not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). Your circumstances and reality may not change, but your focus can.

So, remember, no matter what you face or how you feel, you can do all things through Christ, who gives you strength.

Related Resources

Books & Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild

More from Nancy Guthrie

Links Mentioned in This Episode

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Episode Transcript

4:13 Podcast: Can I Cultivate Hope When I Feel Empty? With Nancy Guthrie [Episode 135]

Jennifer Rothschild: Heads up 4:13'ers! Something fun is right around the corner. We are gearing up to celebrate the first ever 4:13 Day, and I don't want you to miss it. We're going to saturate social media with the truth that we can do all things through Christ, who gives us strength. So, it'll be on Tuesday, April 13th. And I want you to be part of this 4:13 Day. This movement. So make sure that you subscribe to this podcast. That way, you won't miss out on any of the fun. Now, let's get to today's episode.

It's amazing how heavy the weight of emptiness can feel, isn't it? And often we try to fill our own emptiness with whatever we can just to make that heavy feeling go away. But 4:13'ers, God can do His best work in our emptiness. So today, author Nancy Guthrie will help you discover practical ways to make your emptiness the perfect place to cultivate hope. You're going to begin to see that God really does His best work with empty as He fills it with Himself. This is going to be so good. So let's get started.

KC Wright: Welcome to the 4:13 podcast, where practical encouragement and biblical wisdom set you up to live the "I Can" life because you can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you. Now, welcome your host and my friend, Jennifer Rothschild.

Jennifer Rothschild: Welcome. We really are glad you're here. That's my friend KC, my seeing-eye guy, and the podcast gets better when you show up. But I'm just here to help you be and do more than you even feel capable of as you live this "I Can" life of Philippians 4:13. And you know, let's just focus here for one minute, April, ok. It is the fourth month, right?

KC Wright: Yeah.

Jennifer Rothschild: And in a few weeks it will be 4/13.

KC Wright: Oh, my word.

Jennifer Rothschild: Exactly. So stay tuned because we are going to be celebrating 4:13 Day together. So I'm giving you a heads up. I don't want you to miss out because we are going to celebrate by doing some really fun things on social media. And I've got something special I want to give you. So subscribe if you haven't, so you don't miss anything. But today...

KC Wright: Uh-huh.

Jennifer Rothschild: Drum roll!

KC Wright: [Drum noises]

Jennifer Rothschild: It's April 1st.

KC Wright: Sorry, my drum roll kind of sounded like Chewbacca.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, it sounded like an annoying iPhone. But for many of you, when you're listening, it is April Fool's Day. Can we talk about that for a minute?

KC Wright: Yes, we can, Jen.

Jennifer Rothschild: Have you had any bad things done to you on April Fool's?

KC Wright: Let me just tell you what's going on in my life right now.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay. Tell me.

KC Wright: My ten-year-old, Elliana, her and I started this last year in 2020. Prank wars. Uh huh, yeah. So I prank her. She pranks me. This is going strong.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay.

KC Wright: And you wouldn't believe the stuff she's pulled on me already.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay, give me one example.

KC Wright: Okay, how about two.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay.

KC Wright: One of the things that she did recently -- I went and grabbed an Oreo. She had removed the icy fill, the icy filling, and replaced it with toothpaste.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay, okay, hold on just a minute.

KC Wright: Yes.

Jennifer Rothschild: That's awesome. I have to commend her.

KC Wright: Okay.

Jennifer Rothschild: That is so good.

KC Wright: Okay.

Jennifer Rothschild: Right.

KC Wright: I just got back from a wedding. I pull into my garage at 1:30 in the morning. I get out of the car and I look, and you don't know this about me, but I am not afraid of anything. I really have no fear except when it comes to snakes. I'm deathly afraid of snakes. Ellie had gone with Nana and purchased a plastic snake that I thought was real, and she had it laying on the garage stairs. So just picture me at 1:30 in the morning. I'm groggy. I'm tired. I am now standing halfway out of my car and grabbing anything I can find in the garage and I'm throwing it at the snake. Okay.

Jennifer Rothschild: At the rubber snake.

KC Wright: So I'm throwing Christmas wrapping paper at the snake. I'm throwing toilet tissue because we are overstocked because of the pending Armageddon. I found bleach wipes and finally it hits me. Oh my word. That's plastic.

Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, my goodness.

KC Wright: But for six minutes my blood pressure was at an all time high and heart palpitations were going strong.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay, well, I'm impressed because here's the thing, your little girl, she does not need April Fool's Day to mess with you. I love that. That's so funny. You just gave our listeners some ideas or Ellie did.

KC Wright: Uh-huh, yeah.

Jennifer Rothschild: But, I got to say, the Oreo being replaced with toothpaste.

KC Wright: Oh, yeah.

Jennifer Rothschild: That is a winner.

KC Wright: Have you ever had a mouthful of toothpaste smashed with Oreo cookie? It's incredible.

Jennifer Rothschild: I must say, no. I never have. But you know, KC, of course, I have to because I'm such a geek, I had to look at the history of April Fool's Day because I'm like, why this random day for this purpose? You know, what's up with it? So, for you history geeks out there, I'll tell you what I learned. It was on And they say it's kind of a mystery where this came from, April Fool's Day, but most believe that it came from France in the 1500s. I think it was actually 1582. When the Julian calendar switched to the Gregorian calendar. Okay, so in the Julian calendar, the new year began with the spring equinox, you know, which was around April 1st. So people who were slow to get this news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1st, you know, and they were just continuing to celebrate it during, you know, the end of March and April 1st. They became like the butt of jokes and hoaxes and they were called "April fools." And so people would then play pranks on them, kind of like you and Ellie. And so these pranks, though, included having paper fish placed on their backs and they were referred to as "April fish."

KC Wright: Huh.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay, so that's 1500 humor for you, right.

KC Wright: Wow.

Jennifer Rothschild: But this was because it was supposed to symbolize a very young, easily caught fish, you know, a gullible person. So that's where this came from, fish. So, now when you think of fish, you're going to think of April Fool's also.

KC Wright: I love it. Well, then it seems like I should serve fish for dinner tonight.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, there you go.

KC Wright: In honor of April Fool's Day.

Jennifer Rothschild: There you go, you could put a little of Ellie's toothpaste on top.

KC Wright: Yeah, thanks. I now have a plan. So here we come, Christian chicken, Chick-fil-A. All right. Well, let's get to our conversation because I just know this is really going to bless the 4:13'ers today. Nancy Guthrie is our guest, and she's a Bible teacher and author. She and her husband, David, are the co-hosts of the GriefShare video series used in more than 12,000 churches nationwide. Nancy is also the host of Help Me Teach the Bible, a podcast of the gospel coalition. Today, she and Jennifer are talking about her latest book, God Does His Best Work with Empty. So settle in and enjoy this great conversation.

Jennifer Rothschild: Nancy, I want you to take us back to 1998 because you were pregnant, and it's I know it's been 20 years, but I'm wondering if it even could still feel a little bit like yesterday. So could you kind of tell us what what was going on in your life? What happened?

Nancy Guthrie: Yeah, in 1998, I gave birth to a daughter named Hope. And Hope was born with a rare metabolic disorder called Zellweger Syndrome, which probably most of your listeners have never heard of. We had never heard of it, it meant that she was missing this tiny sub-cellular particle in every one of her cells that's needed to remove from our cells long chain fatty acids. And so, on her second day of life, we found out that she likely had this syndrome and that it had impacted every cell of her body. And then, in fact, damage had already been done to all of her major organs. And so the doctor told us there in the hospital room that there was no treatment and no cure, and that most children with that syndrome lived less than six months and, of course, that was devastating.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Nancy Guthrie: You know, I had, I had so looked forward to having a daughter, and I was planning on taking her home to grow old, to grow up, and to grow old with me. Right?

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Nancy Guthrie: And found out immediately that wouldn't be the case. Actually, we would take her home to usher her toward death. Actually, pretty quickly. Hope was with us for 199 days. And then we said goodbye to her.

Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, my goodness. And that's about the time I met you shortly thereafter, because that was, I believe, your first book where you kind of walked through that story.

Nancy Guthrie: Well, actually, there was a little more to the story before then. To have a child with that syndrome means that both my husband David and I must be carriers of the recessive gene trait for that syndrome. And so we knew after we had Hope, a child with that syndrome, that whenever we have a child, the child would have a twenty-five percent chance of having the fatal syndrome. And so, after we had hope, we decided that the wisest course of action was to take surgical steps to prevent another pregnancy. And evidently it didn't work.

Jennifer Rothschild: You're kidding me. So, first of all, you're both carriers, which has to be so rare.

Nancy Guthrie: Yes, that it pretty rare.

Jennifer Rothschild: Then you have surgery and you still get pregnant, which is rare.

Nancy Guthrie: Very rare. Yes, exactly.

Jennifer Rothschild: Wow.

Nancy Guthrie: So I discovered a year and a half after Hope died that I was pregnant.

Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, my.

Nancy Guthrie: And went through prenatal testing and found out that this child also had the fatal syndrome. So, in 2001, our son Gabriel was born, and he was with us a similar amount of time, 183 days. And so that day I met you, in July of 2002, would have been his first birthday. But he was just with us for six months.

Jennifer Rothschild: Wow, Nancy, I can't imagine. And I know even people who are listening, even people who are not moms who've carried babies, have got to have this ache of empathy right now because to love a child and to carry that child and then to know that child is only going to be with you, you know, for a number of days that only God knows. I know you understood in your head because you had been through it with Hope already. But how do you live during that time knowing you're going to have to give him back to Jesus? And, can you ever really be prepared for death, even if your brain knows it's going to happen? Can you kind of talk through that?

Nancy Guthrie: That's, that's a very good question, isn't it? I remember with Hope, you know, I didn't know while I was carrying her. It wasn't until after she was born. And then I remember maybe a couple of weeks into her life and we had a scare that thought maybe death was coming very soon. And I remember asking a friend of mine who had lost her mother, because all of a sudden I thought, "Am I only going to remember what she looks like dead?" And I also just remember coming to terms with the fact that, like, okay, so, you know, we know everyone's going to die, right? I mean, this is not a secret.

Jennifer Rothschild: Right.

Nancy Guthrie: One hundred percent of us. But it is very different when you know. Okay, all of a sudden I was like, you know what, it's not just that Hope's going to die. She's going to die soon. And so very soon either I'm going to go to her crib and find her dead, or she's going to die in my arms. And I was just like, I don't know, I, I don't know what to do with that.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Nancy Guthrie And then so, but your question is, how do you deal with it? You know, first of all, I have to say, I was afraid.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Nancy Guthrie: I mean, I was afraid. I didn't know what that would, would be like. But here is what I've found: Is that the way to face an uncertain future is to take hold of what we know is true and, for me, the solid source of what we know is true is found in the Scriptures. And so, to face an uncertain future with confidence, is to live like we really believe that's the most reliable truth in the universe.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Nancy Guthrie: And I genuinely believed in who God is. I believe He's a healer. I believe He would heal me, that He would do a work in me, that His spirit was living in me that would generate the fruit of the Holy Spirit in me. I took hold of the words spoken to Paul in the midst of devastating loss and sorrow. We don't know exactly what it was when he said he had the thorn in the flesh.

Jennifer Rothschild: Right.

Nancy Guthrie: But I appreciate that we see his humanness because he begged. He knows God is at work in it, he says, "to keep me from becoming conceited. Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, I was given a thorn in the flesh." So, he's like, God is at work in the pain of my life. But don't you just love it? He's like, I don't care about that. I just want the pain to go away. Don't you appreciate his humanness in that?

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes. So what if there is purpose, take it away!

Nancy Guthrie: Exactly. Because it hurt. it hurt. And so he begged God three times to take it away. And then he heard Jesus speak to him, and I don't think it was what he was hoping to hear. He's hoping to hear God speak to him and say, "Okay, you know what, I going to take this away. I'm going to deal with this so you don't have to hurt." And instead, Jesus said to him, "My grace is sufficient. My power is made perfect in weakness." So instead of saying I'm going to take it away, what he hears Jesus say to him is, "I'm going to give you the grace that you need to endure faithfully the pain that I'm not going to take away." Now that is an incredible promise, isn't it?

Jennifer Rothschild: It is. I appreciate it so much, Nancy, because I think sometimes we think the only way the story ends well is when there's healing or when there's deliverance.

Nancy Guthrie: Of course that's what we think. We've been so inundated by this health and wealth gospel. We don't even realize we've taken hold of it.

Jennifer Rothschild: No, exactly.

Nancy Guthrie: Or that we have framed faith to be faith is like I'm going to prove to God that I believe He can and will do different. So, I just had to figure out honestly in the midst of this, Jennifer, what is faith going to look like for me? Does it look like believing for a miracle He's going to do things the way I want Him to do them? And I figured out. No. I think what faith looks like in this is I am determined to trust whatever He does, whatever He provides. And I remember going up to the nursery when Hope was a few weeks old, and I'm starting to rock her. Things that finally kind of settle down a little bit. And I was like, okay, I know what I'm going to do. I think I'm being very generous to God to accept that her life is not going to be incredibly long. But here's what I'm going to do, I'm going to pray and I'm going to ask Him to give her as long of life as possible, to extend her life as long as possible. And it's like I got all ready to pray that, and then I thought to myself, "But wait a minute. What if a longer life isn't better for her?"

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Nancy Guthrie: And what if a longer life for her isn't better for me?

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Nancy Guthrie: And so am I willing instead to simply pray, "Lord, I want You to accomplish Your plan and Your purpose." Am I willing to believe that His plan and purpose is better, better than what I could plan for myself? And so my prayer instead began to be, "Okay, Lord, here's what I need. I need you to give me the grace to trust You with the number of days that You give me. I think that's what faith looks like. I trust You, God, to do what is right and that whatever You do will be right."

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. Well, and to me, Nancy, you weren't praying for a miracle, but in many ways you got a miracle because your life and your steadfastness is a miracle. When you, when I listen from the outside in, I think, "Wow, how is that possible?" Well, it's only possible through the grace, through His power, perfected in our weakness. And to me, any time we can live like that, that is the miracle of God, even in the midst of this loss. And so you're transitioning now to this. Here you are 20 years later. You've lost those two precious children. You've lived with incredible loss and emptiness. Okay, so after that loss, of course, your house, you know, you had empty places in your house, but more significantly in your heart. So I wonder how you deal with the emptiness now, because you say in this new book that God does His best work with empty.

Nancy Guthrie: Yes.

Jennifer Rothschild: So I want you to explain that because there are some folks who are feeling the empty right now. So what do you mean by that?

Nancy Guthrie: Well, first of all, it's based on what I see in Scripture, not solely what I've experienced in my life. If you open up the Bible, the first thing you discover and probably everybody can say it with me, right, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." And we read, "and it was formless and..."

Jennifer Rothschild: Void, empty.

Nancy Guthrie: Empty. Yeah. Wow. Okay, so God spoke the massive raw materials into being, but it needed form and it need to be filled up with goodness. It needed to be lit up with light. And you read Genesis 1, and what happens? I mean He brings form to the formlessness. He says, "Let there be light," and there's light. And what does He do? He fills up the emptiness with light, life, beauty, abundance, relationship, purpose, meaning. Okay, so on the very first page of the Bible, we discover that he does his best work with empty but, of course, that's just, that's just the first creation.

And we see Him do that again and again through the Old Testament as He fills the empty stomachs of the Israelites there in the wilderness, as He fills the empty womb of Sarah with Isaac, as He tells us in the song, "Open your mouth wide and I will fill it. Taste and see that the Lord is good." He just keeps telling us, "I fill up the emptiness with myself and it's not going to be a disappointment to you." And then we get to the New Testament, and there's a woman with an empty womb, not because she's old like Sarah, but because she's never been with a man. And we read that the Holy Spirit is going to come and overshadow her. God is about to do a work in the emptiness of her womb, and her womb is filled with a very life of God. And as we read in the New Testament about what God is doing, there is a work of new creation. That's what it means to become a Christian. I think sometimes people think about, you know, I made a decision, I experience some kind of religious experience. To become a Christian means I become joined to Jesus Christ by faith and in becoming joined to Him the Holy Spirit has sealed me to Christ and made me new.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, yeah. And so...

Nancy Guthrie: On the inside. He took this old heart of stone and made me new. And that work of newness filling begins as the Holy Spirit goes to work in us.

Jennifer Rothschild: Well, and I love how you're just showing, because I think we avoid empty.

Nancy Guthrie: Uh-huh.

Jennifer Rothschild: And we try to fill empty with our own, you know, whatever it may be.

Nancy Guthrie: With so many things right.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Nancy Guthrie: Like scrolling on the Internet, Netflix, alcohol, food, shopping. I mean, emptiness is inherent to living life in a broken world.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Nancy Guthrie: And so, we're all going to be looking for ways to fill the emptiness. And we can choose. We can choose. We can fill it up with all these things so that there's no room, so that we squeeze out the work that God intends to do by His Word, through His Word, by His Spirit. Because we just fill it up with what's so immediate. But it's like when you fill up with junk food.

Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, gosh.

Nancy Guthrie: Like when you go to eat a meal at a fabulous restaurant, and you're just like, why did I eat all of that crap?

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes.

Nancy Guthrie: When I could have filled up with all this wonderful stuff. And don't we do that?

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, we do. So, here's what I'm wondering: How, how do we do that then? Because what you just showed is how Scripture, there's this precedence for almost a requirement of emptiness before the filling. Right?

Nancy Guthrie: Yeah.

Jennifer Rothschild: So, how do we sit with our own emptiness and not just run to our iPhone or out to do some retail therapy or whatever it may be? And by the way, let me just caveat, those things are not bad in and of themselves.

Nancy Guthrie: Exactly.

Jennifer Rothschild: It is the way we use them that can become dangerous. Okay, they're not bad.

Nancy Guthrie: It's expecting too much of them.

Jennifer Rothschild: Right, right. Right. So how do we sit with the emptiness and experience the filling of God in those empty places?

Nancy Guthrie: Well, if you just sit with the emptiness in terms of your own thoughts and emotions, you're going to stay empty. So we need something else to fill them. We need the Holy Spirit to work through the Word of God. Something happens, Jennifer, when we open up God's Word and we read about how He has consistently filled His people in the past. And we read and have a greater appreciation for how He is at work in our lives even now. And God works through His word and it fills up the emptiness, you know, maybe the empty place that took the form of loneliness. As we're in God's Word, we experience His presence that has the power to dispel loneliness. Like those children of Israel, they thought food was going to fill up their stomachs with what they needed. And you remember what Moses tells them as they're getting ready to enter the Promised Land? He says that, "God let you hunger so that you would know that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from mouth of God."

And in, and in the person of Jesus, that's exactly what He experiences. He goes out into the wilderness to be tempted, and He's hungry. He's been out there for 40 days, and the the tempter comes and tempts Him to fill up the emptiness using some kind of illegitimate means. By the way, that's always what Satan does. That's what he did with Eve. He's like, "Oh, you think you're missing something. Here fill it up this way." And he comes to Jesus, "Here, you're empty, fill it up this way." And what does Jesus say? Jesus quotes the very words that Moses said in the wilderness, "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." And so God's Word is what we can depend on to fill the emptiness. Now, I got to say, I imagine you have listeners and they're just like rolling their eyes, because I think I have sometimes. It's just like, "Okay, it's the same old tired line, like, read your Bible more, right?" Don't you think?

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. Well, I think sometimes or we think, "Yeah, I get that. But that hasn't worked for me in the past."

Nancy Guthrie: It hasn't worked for me in the past. Yeah. Okay. I think that's because we tend to think, "Okay, I'm going to start to read through the Bible, and check off my Bible reading every day and, you know, we race through it." And honestly, if you race through Bible reading, you can't get very far. Let me just say, I can't get very far. I start reading a passage and I'm just like, "Wait a minute, what did that mean? What's going on here?" And so it can't just be I'm reading my Bible for a little bit of inspiration for the day or to check it off. It's got to be that you tear off huge chunks, and you go, "I've got to understand this. And I've got to figure out what does this mean for the original audience that this was written for? And what difference does the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus make in how I'm going to apply this to myself? And then, okay, what are the implications? What what does this mean for me?" And that's what it means to feed on God's Word, not simply just to race through it or look for a little inspiration or read a passage and jump too quickly to "what does it mean?"

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Nancy Guthrie: We have got to really chew on it. We've got to work it into our lives.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Nancy Guthrie: By working it into our lives. You know, when we chew on it and it begins to become a part of the way we think about things, it changes our perspective about things. But here's the best thing I think it does, Jennifer. We don't think this can happen, but it can. As it begins to change how we think, then it begins to change how we feel.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. Amen to that, girl. I'm with you.

Nancy Guthrie: Yeah, we tend to think, "Okay, I just feel how I feel and that's that." No, the Bible, it not only sanctifies our behavior and it not only purifies our thoughts, it begins to shape how we feel and that's so powerful. That's what I need.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, that's what I need too. And I, I think that we get that in reverse order. So I'm so grateful that you pull that out, because the Scripture does really renew our minds, which impacts our feelings, which informs our behavior, which changes our habits, which, you know.

Nancy Guthrie: Yes, all of those.

Jennifer Rothschild: I mean, it's just an amazing thing how God does that for us. And so I appreciate that you have constantly, Nancy, taken us back to Scripture. And I hope each of us who's listening has heard, Nancy's not saying, here's your formula for what you do with your emptiness. You're basically saying you treat the Word of God like it's a good meal. You show up empty and you chew slowly. Take one bite at a time and let it nourish you and fill that emptiness. And then it, and then it just makes you a healthier person. And so, I'm wondering, because I know there's somebody listening right now, okay, who's really struggling to see their own emptiness as an opportunity for God to work in their life. So what, I know you've told us, you know, to feed on the Word, but how would you encourage that person who feels like it's never going to change? That emptiness cannot ever be a place for God's work because it's become a deep hole which they've fallen into?

Nancy Guthrie: Well, I would say, first of all, your story is not over. It can feel right now like it's never going to change. And I wish I could tell you, like some teachers will tell you, if you pray this right prayer or if you believe this strong enough that this circumstance in your life will change in the way that you would want it to. That's not the hope that the Bible always holds out to us.

Jennifer Rothschild: No.

Nancy Guthrie: The hope the Bible holds out to us is: I'm going to work in you in the midst of the worst of circumstances, to give you the grace you need to face what I'm not going to take away and to fill you with confidence that this is not the way things will be forever.

Jennifer Rothschild: Forever is heaven. Forever is resurrection. My friends, earth is short and heaven is long. So remember that your circumstances and your reality, it may not change, but your focus can. Your present suffering, according to Romans, is not even worthy to be compared to the glory that is going to be revealed.

KC Wright: And did you notice how she constantly encouraged us to be in the Bible? Every question you asked her answer had something to do with being in Scripture, letting Scripture fill you, finding hope in the Bible. I just so love that.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, I love that, because that's how she has filled, you know, her own emptiness. And we all try to fill our emptiness with quick fixes. You know, I do. So I say that, y'all, we need to make Scripture super accessible to us so it can be a quick fix for us. And I do this by using my Dwell Bible app. I've told you about it many times because I'm such a fan. So if you haven't tried it yet, you really need to check it out. You can go to to be able to check it out or you can find a link at the show notes at

KC Wright: Yeah. In 2021, determine to be men and women of the Bible. And we are giving away one of Nancy's books. So, go to Jennifer's Insta profile on Instagram, and here's how you find it. It's simply @JenRothschild to sign up right there. Or we will also have a link at the show notes at While I have you, I also want to recommend some past podcasts that I thought about during this conversation. These really complement and expand on what we talked about today. One is Episode 111. That's just simply 111. It's the podcast where we show you how Scripture can help you grow closer to God.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes, yes.

KC Wright: Yeah. And the other episode, it was a game changer for me personally and my life, Episode 93 with John Eldredge. Please, I'm begging you. You got to go.

Jennifer Rothschild: One of my favorites.

KC Wright: Listen to that podcast. It's all about getting your life back.

Jennifer Rothschild: I'm telling you, there's so many great resources for you, my friends. These are all going to help you live that 4:13 life. So remember that no matter what you face or how you feel, you can do all things through Christ, who gives you strength. I can.

KC Wright: I can.

Jennifer Rothschild and KC Wright: And that means ... you can.

Jennifer Rothschild: Sorry. I messed you up, maybe.

KC Wright: That's okay.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes, you can. My people. You can.

KC Wright: Hey, listen, I know that you love it when Elliana comes over here, but you better watch your back.

Jennifer Rothschild: Why?

KC Wright: Because Prank Wars 2021 continues.

Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, my gosh. I just hope if she ends up doing it to me, I get cinnamon toothpaste between my Oreos because I'm like a fan. I mean, seriously, have you ever had cinnamon toothpaste?

KC Wright: If you want to bring some life to your family, you may want to consider prank wars, just saying.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay, next week is going to be fun.

KC Wright: Alright.

Jennifer Rothschild: Because we are going to start celebrating 4:13 Day.

KC Wright: I can't believe it. I'm so stoked.

Jennifer Rothschild: Me too.

Go deeper into this week's question in my Bible Study Bistro Facebook group. There's a community of 4:13ers waiting for you!