Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” (1 Kings 19:3-5)
So one of the things that I have had to be giving significant time and attention to is a bullying problem that my daughter Maggie has been dealing with at school. It had gotten so bad that she no longer felt safe there. She was terrified. Now, there is a difference between dealing with mean kids and being harassed and being bullied. What she was describing to me was bullying. After talking it over with my wife, we agreed that the thing to do was to take her out of school. We let the school know what we were doing and why and told them that if they were not able to address this so that she could feel safe, we could not in good conscience send her back and would have to look into other options for her education.
Long story short, once they investigated Maggie’s allegations they were quickly able to verify her story and proceeded to act accordingly. Today, we were told that the main protagonist was being transferred to another school and that two others had been officially disciplined both by the school and their parents and as a result are now in the sights of the office should further action prove necessary.
I was very pleased with how the school handled this and with the actions they took. “Maggie, this is a big win! You did the hard thing bringing this to the attention of the principal. I am so proud of you! You were so brave! The Lord heard the prayer of “The Hot Blue Pepper” (Maggie’s secret superhero identity, and yes, the very same Maggie who took the Ghost Pepper Challenge) and has removed your enemy!”
Maggie’s response was anything but elated. In fact, she broke down and started to cry saying, “What if more people get hurt because of what I did? What if this person just gets more angry and bullies more people because of what happened? I don’t want people to get hurt because of what I did! I don’t want to hurt people! I am sure this bullies cronies are going to be mad at me because their friend got in trouble because of me. I am sure things are only going to get worse. I don’t want to go back. I can’t go back. It is just going to be worse, I know it!”
I was not quite ready for that response. Her mom and I assured her that she is not responsible for the actions of other people; we said that she had more likely made the lives of other students better now that this person was gone. We told her that now she was worried about what might happen. That she was creating a mental picture of something that was not real. Yes, the school needed to give assurances that this person’s crew would not retaliate and seek revenge, but she needed to try going back.
As we listened to Maggie and talked with her, it seemed to me that we often do the same thing with God sometimes. We find ourselves facing a bad situation, a difficult person, or stuck in painful circumstances that frighten the beejeebers out of us. And when God makes it clear that He will deal with it and get us through it, and brings some relief, we still look around and wonder if it will really be okay.
Like Elijah ran and hid after his amazing victory where God came down in fire and he was able to kill 450 prophets of Baal who has been accusing him, sometimes perceived trouble ahead makes us discount the protection and provision God has shown—even when He had just done it. God didn’t give up on him when he ran and hid. He didn’t get angry and punish him. He didn’t berate him. God fed him, revived him, and drew him to Himself for a time to strengthen, encourage, and empower him to go back and face his enemies.
Mandi and I need to do that with Maggie. We need to listen to her, affirm her, encourage her, pray with her, and work with the Spirit to get her spiritually and emotionally fed and strengthened so that she has the strength and will to give this school another try.