SHALOM WHEN WE LOSE CONTROL

Most of us relate to the word shalom as peace. Shalom is also used as hello and even good bye as a blessing of peace to you. Shalom is hope of a glorious new life. But it is also rest in the midst of dark and ugly events that God wills. How do we as a family express the good and bad in the honest dialogue of our faith. Can we dive in and share our dirty laundry and the process of getting it clean? Let us look at how King Asa reigned in all levels of shalom. Pretend a parent is comparing this King Asa account with their life events at the kitchen table with their kids. Maybe we can learn from some sobering honesty.

Asa gained shalom by wholeheartedly worshiping the Lord. Maybe some of his people lost control by his destruction of all of their pretend idols. But the Lord gave him rest (shalom) and he used this time of peace to rebuild and reinforce many of the cities of Judah. A parent may share their arrogance when they think God blessed them because they were so good.

But in this time of shalom Asa lost control when an Ethiopian army of one million troops marched on Judah. He was out numbered two to one. But King Asa did not lose control of shalom. He called on the Lord as he looked at certain defeat and prayed “no one is stronger than You.” The Lord was Asa’s only hope and the Lord fought the battle. “They were shattered before the Lord and before His army.” But in the midst of this shalom Asa turned and ravaged the towns the Ethiopians marched through to attack Judah. Cities once occupied were now destroyed and robbed by Asa. In victory with the Lord’s shalom Asa lost control. A parent may now warn about over zealous righteous anger and how it hurt many others.

An interesting choice for Asa came next when a prophet confronted him. The prophet warned Asa to seek the Lord even in times of victory. The prophet warned him there were times that Israel experienced no victory or peace even when they sought the Lord. But Asa, at least in his middle age reign, repented. He went home and continued to remove the false gods and forced the people to worship only the Lord. One of the kids may speak up and ask, “Can shalom be forced on the people? What is a forced faith in a family?”

Then in King Asa’s last days he rejected the shalom of peace he had for so long. He sought the strength of a pagan nation. He was king after all and was in control. Another prophet rebuked him with the wonderful shalom of the Lord. “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 King Asa threw that prophet into prison. Asa, poor Asa, wanted in the end to be in control and when he could not, he lost control in anger. He died continuing to deny the Lord with a bad foot disease. The parent may be mournful, “may I not deny the Lord in my last days.” The children reply “may that never happen!”

Let us learn shalom from Asa. In peace and good times - seek the Lord. In dark and ugly times, seek shalom and seek the Lord. The fact is, the Lord is seeking to strengthen you. And our children say “even in our last days."

by Steve Sagué, Elder

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