The Oasis - January 2, 2019

Author: Rev. Dan Hollis
January 02, 2019

January 2nd, 2019
Rev. Dan Hollis

2 Kings 2: 23-24
[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.

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 eminently throw-able within arm’s reach?

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 at home in front of the TV, 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.

Exercise:  Practice saying the alphabet backwards in your head a couple of times, then try it again the next time you’re about to blow your top.

Prayer:  God of mercy and wisdom, when I am hurt, grant me comfort. When I am victimized, grant me strength. And when Your rage fills me, grant me peace within, so that I may have peace without. Amen.

Song I’m listening to these days:  “Take a Hint,” ft. Victoria Justice and Elizabeth Gillies

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