At the same time the word of God came to Shemaiah, a holy man, “Tell this to Rehoboam son of Solomon, king of Judah, along with all the Israelites in Judah and Benjamin, This is God’s word: Don’t march out; don’t fight against your brothers the Israelites. Go back home, every last one of you; I’m in charge here.” And they did it; they did what God said and went home. 2 Chronicles 11:2-4 (MSG)
Anger. Pain. Loss. Those are the ingredients for rash decisions and tragic reactions.
When Jeroboam rebelled and took half the kingdom with him, Rehoboam’s first instinct was to march to war and take back what he felt was rightly his. The carnage would have been unbelievable. We saw it in our own country’s civil war.
I’ve seen this same reactive “take back what’s mine” anger in many different situations:
- Siblings fighting over toys when they are young, inheritance when they are older
- People stalking boyfriends/girlfriends who’ve ended the relationship
- Parents grasping after rebellious children
- Spouses punishing their mates when they feel their spouse has taken advantage of them
I’ve always been struck by the story of the prodigal son. The father in the story didn’t run after his son and demand that he come home. It didn’t mean the father didn’t care or didn’t desperately want his prodigal to return. The father simply knew that reacting in anger and making his son return by force would never work. So, he chose to respond to his son’s hurtful, selfish decisions by staying home, sitting on the porch, waiting, keeping an eye on the road and praying.
We can’t control what others do. We can only control how we respond.Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and kacleaveland