The Oasis - June 23, 2021

Author: Pastor Dan Hollis
June 23, 2021

When’s the last time you overreacted to something? Was it the supermarket parking lot? The on-ramp of the highway? Sitting in front of the evening news with something highly throw-able within arm’s reach?

It’s something all of us do at one time or another, and it happens more frequently when we’ve got a lot of stress building up already. There’s always that straw that breaks the camel’s back, right? It may be pretty insignificant as far as triggers go, and our real, true anger might not actually be for whatever set us off, but all at once it all just comes exploding out. We often lash out at things that are fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things if we were really to step back and look at it, and that doesn’t really deal with our underlying stresses and frustrations... but sometimes you’ve just got to let it all out. The pressure’s building and something’s gotta give.

[The prophet Elisha] went up from there to Bethel; and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go away, baldhead! Go away, baldhead!” When he turned around and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and then returned to Samaria. 2 Kings 2:23-24

I love this passage in 2 Kings, both for its content and the deliciously dry delivery. I don’t imagine it was supposed to be funny in its original context, but come on. The prophet of the Lord—latest in a long line of oracles and miracle workers—is the victim of schoolyard name-calling, and promptly summons two bears out of the woods to maul forty-two children. Then he goes on with his day.

 We’re not going to talk about what just happened? No? Just gonna go on to the eighteenth year of King Jehoshaphat of Judah and ignore the whole… “summon angry bears” thing?

If ever there was a trick I wish they taught us in seminary…

Now, as much as this passage teaches us not to make fun of strangers because you never know who might be packing two wild bears, I think it should also serve as a lesson about overreaction.

Winston Churchill and Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben both believed that with great power comes great responsibility. Sure, the prophet Elisha could summon wild bears to maul a gaggle of rude children… but should he? With all the power of the Lord God of Hosts at his back, what would a more proportional response have been? Something that would have taught a lesson, certainly, but something that wouldn’t have had perhaps such gory and life-altering consequences.

Whether we’re in the parking lot, or on the highway, or in front of the TV at a sports bar, the next time we’re slighted and fit to bursting with the wrath of God, let’s try to remember Elisha’s own overreaction, and maybe take a tighter hold on the leash of at least one of our bears.

And then, when we get home, maybe we start searching for a healthy way to work through them so they aren’t following us through the woods everywhere we go.

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