Where in the Bible do you go when you are in distress as a Christian parent? The Psalms for comfort? Proverbs for wisdom? The Gospels for the words of Jesus?
Have you ever gone to 2 Kings? Take a moment to read chapters 6 and 7. These two chapters are filled with faith, strength and the mighty power of God. And at the center of these stories is a man named Elisha.
As parents, we could learn a lot from Elisha on how to be calm in the midst of storms. Here are a few lessons we can glean from this mighty man of God.
He didn’t over react. In the beginning of chapter 6 someone panics when a borrowed ax head sinks to the bottom of a murky river. Elisha calmly tosses a stick in the water and it floats to the surface. “Pick it up,” he casually tells the man.
> Parenting Application: When something goes wrong in your house, how do you react? Do you panic or take a moment for a deep breath? Do you tend to catastrophize or are you able to keep things in perspective? Recently, I heard someone say that parents need to be able to differentiate between a true tragedy and burnt toast. A scratch in your coffee table feels like a tragedy, but in the scheme of things, it’s really only “burnt toast.” Ask God to help you view the distressing situations that come your way with eternal eyes. Ask yourself, “Is this a true crisis or just burnt toast?”
He looked beyond the obvious. In Chapter 6 verses 16 and 17, God gave Elisha the ability to see beyond the confines of this material world straight into the activity of the spiritual world around him. He could see God’s army of horses and chariots of fire surrounding the enemy but his servant could not. At least not until he prayed this simple prayer: “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.”
> Parenting Application: Often we can only see what is right in front of us. We don’t see things from God’s perspective. Our heart breaks when we learn that something hurtful has happened to one of our children. But is it possible that God is using that hurtful situation to mold and make him into a child after His own heart? What if our need to make things better gets in His way? Before your react to what you know, ask God to help you see the situation as He does. Pray the exact prayer that Elisha prayed for his servant, “Open my eyes, Lord, so that I may see.”
He prayed creatively. We may scratch our heads as we listen in on Elisha’s prayer in verse 18. He asks that God would strike the enemy army with blindness. He didn’t ask that God would make them victorious (he could have with all those chariots of fire and horses hanging around). He didn’t ask that God would cause them to turn around and go home (He’s done that before). He asked that they would be blinded. And God did it.
> Parenting Application: Do you feel stuck in your prayers for yourself and your children? Do you not know how or what to pray when you are feeling overwhelmed? Do you need some creativity? There are no boundaries on prayer. God even says that we can ask “whatever we wish”(John 15:7). So let’s go boldly before the throne when we pray (Hebrews 4:16), assured of the fact that if we ask for bread, we will not be given a stone (Matthew 7:9). If your child is struggling in school, try praying over his report card. If your child is in a sad or lonely place try laying hands on her in prayer as she sleeps.
He believed God when others doubted. At the end of chapter 6 and in the beginning of chapter 7, we see that Elisha had become the king’s scapegoat for all that was wrong in Samaria. He blamed Elisha for the siege and the resulting famine. In the midst of all of this, God gave Elisha an incredible and seemingly impossible message: Tomorrow we will have all we can eat and more. No one believed him. But Elisha confidently believed God, even when what he heard from God made no sense at all.
> Parenting Application: Do you believe in God’s promise to prosper you and not to harm you (Jeremiah 29:11)? Do you believe that His desire is that none shall be lost? (2 Peter 3:9). One of the most helpful things we can do as Christian parents is to claim the promises of God. Even when situations seem hopeless or bleak, we can trust that God is at work, has a plan and will not rest until it is completed (Philippians 1:6). Here is a great website that contains 365 different promises of God – one for each day of the year.
As I read these chapters about Elisha, I find myself wishing I could be more like him – assured, confident and calm no matter what is happening around me. What was his secret? I think the key to his calm demeanor was his intimate relationship with God. That is why so many of the parenting applications outlined above center around prayer. To be sure, God is not against the “foxhole” prayers we toss in His direction when a crisis emerges, but there is a blessing of true peace that comes when we walk hand in hand with our Heavenly Father throughout our day. So when you wake up tomorrow, reach out your hand. He’s waiting.
[image credit: pippalou from morguefile.com]