Sunday Sneak Peek: The “Furnace Monster” and a Mother’s Faith

8 05 2010

One of the scariest things we can experience as children is to be alone in the house with nothing but us and a creepy, dark, musty basement and a note from mom that asks us to go down and swap the clothes from the washer to the dryer. Of course, no child wants any part of that assignment because everyone knows what’s in the basement! The “furnace monster!” I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced an encounter with the “furnace monster” or not, but for me it ranked right up there with frightening things like letting my feet dangle off the end of my bed at night and fearing that “something” would grab them and pull me under the bed never to be seen again. This is seriously scary stuff! Almost as scary as clowns!!! (Not quite though…) In my mind the furnace is like a fire-breathing metal dragon that wants to eat anything that comes near it and especially loves to snack on little children.

What does this have to do with a mother’s faith? Glad you asked… In 1 Peter 1:7 Peter writes, “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (emphasis mine) When I think of fiery trials I think: “furnace monster!!” But wait a minute! Christians aren’t supposed to fear trials, but rather embrace them and count them all joy. You may say, “That’s weird.” Well, not to God. The faith of the believer is forged in the fiery furnace of trials and afflictions. That’s right, Christians are supposed to embrace the “furnace monster!” Yikes!

In 2 kings 4:1-7 we find the account of a mother with two sons whose husband has just died and left her with a credit nightmare. The creditors are coming to take her two sons away as hired servants to pay off the family debt. The grieving widow and desperate mother is trying to keep it all together. What does she do? Where does she turn? She turns to the only place faith can turn: to its object, God! You see in the midst of the furnace of life this woman’s faith is anchored in the living God. She turns to God’s prophet, Elisha, for practical help and answers. George Mueller once said, “God delights to increase the faith of His children…I say, and say it deliberately–trials, difficulties and sometimes defeat, are the very food of faith…We should take them out of His hands as evidences of His love and care for us in developing more and more that faith which He is seeking to strengthen in us.” How tightly we cling to God in the midst of hardship is often dtermined by how tightly we cling to Him in the midst of our prosperity. Is your faith anchored in God even before the “furnace monster” visits you?

Not only is her faith anchored in God, but with the danger of losing everything that is dear to her she gives her only possession to the cause of God. Think about it…She’s in danger of losing the house and the kids and she tells Elisha all she has is a jar of oil. I mean this woman doesn’t have two nickels to rub together, but what little she does have she’s going to give it to God. Hudson Taylor once said to his wife, “We have twenty-five cents – and all the promises of God!” Folks, that’s faith! Our natural inclination in the midst of tragedy is to cling to what we have, not give it away. Yet that’s what Elisha calls on this widow to do: consecrate your oil to the Lord! And by faith she does.

Furthermore, she demonstrates radical obedience to what Elisha tells her to do. He tells her to go and collect empty vessels from her neighbors, as many as she possibly can. Can you imagine how humbling that must have been? I’m sure all of her neighbors were wondering outloud what she was going to do with all of these empty vessels as they watched her and her two sons carry them into the house. Then Elisha says to her “you and your two sons go into the house and shut the door.” In other words, no nosy neighbors allowed! They’ll have to wait and hear what happens. She begins pouring that little jar of oil into the empty vessels and the oil doesn’t run dry until she runs out of empty vessels! Her faith was measured by her obedience!

She then goes to Elisha in what I believe must have been a beautiful scene. This mom is living in the midst of the fiery furnace monster of life that is threatening to chew her up and make her nothing but a pile of ashes. But that’s not happening to this mom! I picture her coming to Elisha with her sleeves rolled up and sweat on her face and she wipes her arm across her nose and says to the prophet, “Now what do I do?” I love it! This woman is tough as nails! Elisha tells her to sell the oil, pay her debt, and she and her two sons can live on the rest. Her faith leaps forth from the mouth of the “furnace monster” and rather than a pile of ashes, it comes out GOLD! Her faith is refined by the provisions of God!

Don’t you praise the Lord for moms with a faith like this!? May their tribe increase!! How’s our faith? Is it anchored in Christ? Have we consecrated all we are and all we have to the eternal purposes of God? In short, Are we ready to embrace the “furnace monster?”



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