2 Samuel 18:9-10,14,24-25,30-19:3
Absalom happened to run into some of David’s followers. Absalom was riding a mule and the mule passed under the thick branches of a great oak. Absalom’s head caught fast in the oak and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule he was riding went on. Someone saw this and told Joab. ‘I have just seen Absalom’ he said ‘hanging from an oak.’ Joab took three lances in his hand and thrust them into Absalom’s heart while he was still alive there in the oak tree.
David was sitting between the two gates. The lookout had gone up to the roof of the gate, on the ramparts; he looked up and saw a man running all by himself. The watch called out to the king and told him. The king said, ‘If he is by himself, he has good news to tell.’ The king told the man, ‘Move aside and stand there.’ He moved aside and stood waiting.
Then the Cushite arrived. ‘Good news for my lord the king!’ cried the Cushite. ‘The Lord has vindicated your cause today by ridding you of all who rebelled against you.’ ‘Is all well with young Absalom?’ the king asked the Cushite. ‘May the enemies of my lord the king’ the Cushite answered ‘and all who rebelled against you to your hurt, share the lot of that young man.’
The king shuddered. He went up to the room over the gate and burst into tears, and weeping said, ‘My son Absalom! My son! My son Absalom! Would I had died in your place! Absalom, my son, my son!’ Word was brought to Joab, The king is now weeping and mourning for Absalom.’ And the day’s victory was turned to mourning for all the troops, because they learned that the king was grieving for his son. And the troops returned stealthily that day to the town, as troops creep back ashamed when routed in battle.
When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered round him and he stayed by the lakeside. Then one of the synagogue officials came up, Jairus by name, and seeing him, fell at his feet and pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her to make her better and save her life.’ Jesus went with him and a large crowd followed him; they were pressing all round him.
Now there was a woman who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years; after long and painful treatment under various doctors, she spent all she had without being any the better for it, in fact, she was getting worse. She had heard about Jesus, and she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his cloak. ‘If I can touch even his clothes,’ she had told herself ‘I shall be well again.’ And the source of the bleeding dried up instantly, and she felt in herself that she was cured of her complaint. Immediately aware that power had gone out from him, Jesus turned round in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ His disciples said to him, ‘You see how the crowd is pressing round you and yet you say, “Who touched me?”’ But he continued to look all round to see who had done it. Then the woman came forward, frightened and trembling because she knew what had happened to her, and she fell at his feet and told him the whole truth. ‘My daughter,’ he said ‘your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free from your complaint.’
While he was still speaking some people arrived from the house of the synagogue official to say, ‘Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble?’ But Jesus had overheard this remark of theirs and he said to the official, ‘Do not be afraid; only have faith.’ And he allowed no one to go with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. So they came to the official’s house and Jesus noticed all the commotion, with people weeping and wailing unrestrainedly. He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and crying? The child is not dead, but asleep.’ But they laughed at him. So he turned them all out and, taking with him the child’s father and mother and his own companions, he went into the place where the child lay. And taking the child by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha, kum!’ which means, ‘Little girl, I tell you to get up.’ The little girl got up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. At this they were overcome with astonishment, and he ordered them strictly not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat.
If only I had died instead of you! Oh, Absalom my son, my son!
There is a common view amongst many of my elders that being a parent today is much harder than it’s ever been before. There are many factors that go into this opinion. One of those reasons is that kids have so much more information and means to access it, despite whether that information is age appropriate or not. TV, movies, internet and video games are constantly inundating our children with images of sex, violence and the ills of society. Further more, social media has given kids tools to easily communicate with one another, express themselves (whether solicited or not) and receive instantaneous feedback. It has also allowed kids a platform to create their own desired branding suitable (or not) for the online popularity contests.
In a 2011 study done by Dr. Larry Rosen a professor of psychology at California State University, it concluded that the overuse of Facebook could lead to the development of psychological disorders amongst teens (more prone to narcissistic tendencies, anxiety, depression). All of this – coupled with a serious breakdown of the traditional family structure (higher divorce rates and out of wedlock births) – makes raising “good” kids a real challenge today.
Although I agree society is becoming more connected and hence more complex, I would think it must have been just as equally difficult to raise kids in the past as it is today. The existence of wayward children and negative external influences originate from the beginning of mankind. Consider Adam and Eve when they ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge and how they specifically disobeyed their Father the Creator. Consider also Satan and how he finds a way to tempt them. When we examine our own lives – how many times have we thought that we know what’s better than our parents? Or what they are telling us just isn’t relevant in today’s age? How many times have we rejected our parents and their love for us?
As we examine the readings from today and yesterday, we learn about Absalom, the third son of David. Without question, Absalom was a problem child. His envy of his father and brothers drove him to do great evil. Not only did Absalom attempt to overthrow his father’s reign, he also ordered the death of a half bother Amon in revenge for the rape of his sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13: 23-38). Yet, despite all the defiant and vengeful acts, David loved Absalom dearly and was willing to forgive him for all of his transgressions. Who does Absalom remind us of? How often do we sin and yet, our Heavenly Father continues to forgive us and pour out His love onto us? Paul teaches us, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
As parents with two young boys, my wife and I worry a lot about whether we’re doing all that we can to raise our kids in a safe, healthy and loving environment. However, we also don’t want our kids to become too sheltered so that as they get older, they are incapable of dealing with problems and finding solutions for themselves. We want them to acquire a sound moral standard and have the conviction to stand up for what they believe in. Yet, we also want them to respect the viewpoints of others and be empathetic to others’ plight. We want them to grow up to be caring and thoughtful members of their community and not succumb to negative peer pressure, doing things that could be detrimental to themselves and/or others. In light of this ever evolving and increasingly complex society that we live in, how are we supposed to best raise our kids? How do we find the right balance of creating a nurturing environment without over sheltering them from the world? If we examine the gospel reading from today, the answer is very simple. Like Jairus, we need to introduce Jesus into our children’s lives.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Steven Su)
Prayer : Heavenly Father, we pray that you grant parents the wisdom, patience and energy to accept, to be firm and fair with, to concentrate on, to develop, to encourage and to forgive our children. We pray that our children grow up leading a Christ-centered life.
Thanksgiving: Our Savior Jesus Christ – we thank you for letting our children come to You. Allow us not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to them.