Every parent deals with an occasional temper tantrum. I admit, I have thrown a few even in my adult years. When I teach a parenting class I am always asked, “What should I do when my child throws a fit?” I wish I had noticed the way God handled Elijah’s depression conniption, before I wrote “Parenting with the End in Mind: Practical Guidance with Biblical Principles.” You will notice in the left sidebar information throughout the post is excerpts from the book. I will definitely be including how God dealt with Elijah as an example next time I teach discipline techniques.
When we left Elijah last week, he had lost all hope. Believing Jezebel would kill him, he ran 100 miles, left his servant in Beersheba, gone another day’s journey into the wilderness, asked God to kill him and went to sleep.
Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” (1 Kings 19:5-7 NIV)
- When your child is acting inappropriately, determine if he is tired or hungry. Elijah was obviously so exhausted he didn’t even react to angel waking him with breakfast. It is unusual for an angel not to have to say, “Do not be afraid.” Elijah just ate the bread, drank the water, and went back to sleep. Elijah had been feed by ravens (1 Kings 17:6) and a starving widow (1 Kings 17:10-11) so may be the angel wasn’t such a surprise.
If he had been thinking clearly, he might have realized that he had no reason to fear Jezebel. God had supernaturally cared for him over the last three and a half years. He wasn’t going to stop now.
Notice that the angel was preparing him for a long journey. God supplies us with what we need. (Philippians 4:19) Often we have no idea of what we really need.
- When a child makes a bad decision, be sure he recognizes the unfortunate result of his choice. In some instances, you will have to create the consequence. Elijah ran away from Israel, so God took him on a long forty-day walk. When the Israelites lacked faith, they wandered the desert for forty years. Elijah’s consequence was his journey took twice as long as necessary.
- By removing your child from the group he has time to change this attitude and rethink his behavior. Elijah’s self-imposed isolation did not improve his perspective; God will have to intervene (1 Kings 19:15-18). The reason he didn’t learn from his mistake is that he was still believing a lie. (The previous post “Feeling Like a Failure…” examined this issue .)
Like Jonah, Elijah no longer wanted to be a prophet, so he ran. I understand Jonah didn’t want the people to repent. Elijah couldn’t get Ahab and Jezebel to repent. But I don’t understand why he left his servant behind.
Or had Elijah become paranoid? Was he afraid that the servant would betray him to Jezebel for money?
The Bible doesn’t say, but whatever the reason, the action was based on a faulty assumption: “God will not protect me from Jezebel. I must take matters into my own hands.”
Mt Horeb, aka Mt Sinai, was where Moses received the law. There are some who believe that this is the same location (Matthew 17:1) that Jesus met with Moses and Elijah just prior to his crucifixion.
There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9 NIV)
- Treat your child with the same respect you would want. Listen to your child’s explanation before you make any decision. God asked Elijah to explain why we ran away. When Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis 3:9) God called, “Where are you?” When Cain killed Able (Genesis 4:9) God asked, “Where is your brother?”
He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (1 Kings 19:10 NIV)
Elijah’s answer is completely accurate, except for six words. He thought he was the only one left, but he was wrong. Obadiah had told him about a 100 other prophets (1 Kings 18:13). He was a victim of another of satan’s half-truths. Leaving his servant behind made him even more vulnerable to satan’s attack. God provides us with the ability to with stand these attacks. Read The Power of Community .
God is such a caring, providing father. He deals with my temper tantrums with the gentle patience, He used with Elijah. He lovingly provides me with consequences to teach me. He gives me numerous opportunities to repent, before imposing a larger sanction.
Next week we will examine how God met Elijah’s emotional needs through Elisha and set His expectations (1Kings 19:15-18). Our focus will not be on God, the parent.
Did becoming a parent change the way you viewed God?
What other discipline techniques does God use with you?