Telling TimeApril 6, 2012 - 5:00 am
“His attendants asked him, ‘Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!’ He [David] answered, ‘While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, “Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.” But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.’” – 2 Samuel 12:21–22
King David’s servants had a big problem. They had watched their mighty and powerful king spend seven days on his knees weeping, fasting, and begging the Almighty to heal his sick infant. He was inconsolable. Now, the king’s baby had died. How could they possibly tell him? If he was in such a terrible state when the baby was sick, what might he do now that the baby was gone?
King David noticed his servants whispering to one another and figured out that his baby was no longer in this world. His reaction absolutely stunned the men. After they confirmed that the infant had died, King David got up, washed, changed his clothing, prayed, and ate. The men could not understand how the king could feel better when his circumstances had clearly changed for the worse. “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!” King David explained to them, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting?”
King David is teaching us that there are times in our lives when we must do all that we can to effect change. Yet there are also times when there is nothing to do but accept God’s will and move on. Sometimes it’s not easy to know which response is appropriate. However, other times, when we take a moment to examine our situation, it is painfully obvious which response is necessary.
How much time and energy do we waste on minor irritations like traffic, the weather, a nasty cold, or someone else’s unpleasant attitude? We can try all we want, but those are things pretty much outside our sphere of influence. How many opportunities do we miss to teach our children valuable life lessons, to brighten someone else’s day, to keep a positive attitude, or to pray? Those are areas in which we have more power than we know.
How might life be different if we focused our energy in the areas in which we have influence? How much more peace would be in our lives if we accepted the things that we cannot change?