A friend sent a tape to us recently by Elisabeth Elliott titled "Thank God for the Furnace," and Hannah and I listened to it this week when it was too rainy to work outside in the garden. Here are some scribbled jottings from her talk.
- What do you think of when you hear "furnace of affliction?" It doesn't have to be anything big--even little things can cause us to cry out: "Why did this have to happen?" or "Oh, no!"
- Small things prepare us for the big things; we develop a quality of endurance. James 1:2-3 says: "Count it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance."
- Who knows what God will require of us. Maybe nothing heroic. Maybe just a willingness to accept little things that cut across our will.
- Result of the furnace: stronger faith, better witness.
- Have we ever faced a furnace of affliction like John & Betty Stam? They were missionaries to China and were beheaded for their faith.
- What is our response to little differences or problems the Lord allows to happen in our lives? Is our first reaction self-protection--"get me out of this!" Do we make a fuss about it to friends--"this house," "this marriage," these kids!"
- What is your cross? Whatever is HARD for YOU. The Lord knows how to give us the very thing that's hardest for us--to become more like Him. God has given us this furnace...for a time.
- Give up rights to self to be His disciple. Take up His cross and follow; surrender it all.
We enjoyed listening to this tape and being reminded of why trials can be good things. It's encouraging, too, to have friends who've walked through some of the same furnaces and know how to pray with you and for you.
"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God." Isaiah 43:1b-3a