With all that has been going on in the world and even our country lately, I think I wouldn’t be far wrong if I state that many people, especially those who are concerned about the right order of things are probably feeling that they have lost something in their lives. Primarily, it is the nagging feeling that the system of balance or morality is missing from the real world. The actual world seems to function very differently from those of the fairy tale.
Yet, even in the days of the Bible, many of God’s chosen people and prophets went through exactly the same valley experience. Picture yourself as Joseph imprisoned unjustly, and what’s worse, being in that situation as a result of the actions of his own brothers. Imagine David being promised a position as a king and instead finding himself running away from Saul for his life. Or Elijah finding Ahab still stubborn in his wicked ways and out for his life, even after the king saw the might of God in the fire that came down from Heaven.
In such circumstances, it is easy to just mourn and blame God for everything. On the 1st of February, Pastor Grace Chan addressed this issue, sharing from a lesser-known passage of the Bible, specifically 2 Kings 6:1-6. Her message centered on responses in such situations, and the keys to recovering whatever we may have lost.
2 Kings 6:1-6 is the story of Elisha and the man who lost his axe. In particular, Elisha was with a group of men who wanted to build a larger place so that they could meet him comfortably. In order to build this place, they had to chop down some trees near the Jordan River, and as one of the men were cutting down the trees, his axe-head fell into the river.
This may seem like a nondescript event. Still, even passages like this have actually much to teach us. Pastor Grace shared that verses 1-2 of the passage speaks about expansion. However, verse 5 turns in the diametrically opposite direction and speaks about loss.
Very often, in our lives, this is how things are. Just as we seem near to achieving new heights in our lives, we hit calamity and many of us are destroyed by circumstances or never recover from them. Customary responses of another person in the same position as the woodcutter could have come in two forms; either ‘take it easy since an accident could not be avoided after all’, or ‘blame God for the circumstances’.
Yet the woodcutter responded in a notable manner, and what resulted from that was a miracle. In verse 6, Elisha after seeing what had happened to the man, threw a stick into the river and the axe-head floated to the surface. What were the responses of this woodcutter that God would grant him a miracle and restored to him what he had lost? Pastor Grace shared 3 keys we could learn from the responses of this woodcutter.
Key 1: Attitude
The woodcutter’s first thought was finishing the work that was handed to him. Pastor Grace shared that while many things are out of our control, there is one thing that is always within our control, 100% of the time, and that is our attitude.
Circumstances cannot be changed; there are always many factors that bring them about, the actions of others, sometimes unforeseen events that isn’t the fault of anyone such as natural disasters, and sometimes our own limited knowledge and short-sightedness. What makes the difference between people is the way they respond when they find themselves in situations that might either tear themselves down, or lead them to tear down another person.
Because we belong to God, our responses must be guided by God. The cutting edge to whatever we’re doing comes when our attitude and motives are right before God, and it opens the way to God’s blessings on our work. Pastor Grace imparted that men cannot see to the inside of our hearts but nothing is hidden from the sight of God. There is a danger if our hearts are not right before God, and our attitude before Him must be shaped with humility not selfish ambition, and a concern for others not our own egotism.
Key 2: Crying Out to God!
The woodcutter cried out. Pastor Grace communicated that life is like a race, with many stumbles along the way. Usually, when we stumble for the first time, the people around us would encourage us to get up and continue the race. But this is not necessarily the case when we fall the second time or the third time. This is the time when many people find themselves abandoned and alone.
She shared a personal testimony of a vivid dream she had of a race that was exactly like this. But the amazing thing is that when she stumbled near the finish line, and the others were jeering at her, one hand was stretched out to her in compassion. The person who stretched out that hand even supported her towards the finish line. Our cries are important to God; they rise up to God and He hears them. Pastor Grace pointed out that there are many verses in the Bible that affirms this for us (Exodus 2:23; Judges 3:9; Psalm 34:6; Matt 15:25, 17:15, 20:30; Mark 10:47; Luke 17:12-13).
Key 3: Recognizing the Master
The woodcutter may have cried out to Elisha, but he recognized Elisha’s authority as a man of God and respected him for that fact. As Christians, we must recognize who God is to us; the Almighty yet compassionate Lord in our lives. God is the one that accomplishes things and sometimes He may allow us to go through certain hurdles in our life-journey for a purpose.
Looking back, Joseph recognized that everything he went through in Egypt was a plan that God had to bring his life to a higher level, but when he went through whatever he did in the days before he became the vizier, he might have despaired, sink into insurmountable depression, and his journey would have ended there in prison.
Attitudes have an immense power in shaping our lives and directing the course of our future. Ultimately, we want to look back on our lives and say that we have lived one that has honored God; a life that was not wasted but worthy of the Master. Paul too had to go through immense trials but as he wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:7:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
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– Jason Law