“Tell me your story,” the king implored the woman who stood screaming bloody murder from beneath him. He’d come out on the city wall to gaze at the enemy troops that encircled his kingdom, cutting off food supplies and slowly strangling the people. Only the wealthy had the little that was left to eat, but most were starving since you can’t buy what doesn’t exist.
“This woman came to me,” she wailed, “and said, ‘Give up your son and we’ll have him for today’s supper. Then tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I told her, ‘It’s your turn. Bring your son so we can have him for supper.’ But she had hidden her son away.”
Upon hearing this nauseating story, the king ripped apart his robe which was the way Jews of his time expressed great agony. You see, the sympathetic king loved his people, so he had chosen to place himself in the same dire situation as they in order that he might suffer with his people.
The story speaks to the love God has for us (as Jesus would eventually prove when He suffered on the cross). He wants to provide us with spiritual food for us to thrive. He sees, hears, and knows the enemies that surround us and His heart breaks.
This horrific Bible story isn’t made up. It happened. Desperation leads us to do unthinkable things and since my faith in an all-knowing, all-loving God is central to my thinking and perhaps yours, I trust that God put this story in the Bible to teach us something. Is it so that we’d have a scary Halloween story? Is the point that we’re not to eat our children? Maybe it’s that we need to be careful who we bargain with in life or that starvation can be physical as well as spiritual and it can kill our bodies and souls.
All these possible options might apply, but in our increasingly angry world, I think God wants us to remember something more significant. I think He wants us to learn that we have to fight to hold onto the truth – especially in times of desperation and hopelessness. His wisdom may seem ancient to many but it’s really new every morning to those who are courageous enough to spend time in Bible reading, meditation, and prayer. Spiritual food can miraculously sustain us when physical resources dry up, but if we haven’t built up those reserves when desperate times occur, we lose our sense of reason.
Many today are living in desperate times, and the world is irreparably broken. It’s an immoral culture, and you can’t expect an immoral culture to choose a moral course of action. Desperation leads to unthinkable, even insane choices that often sound reasonable in the moment.
Researchers tell us our culture today likes to be scared – but safe. That’s why Disneyland, Universal Studios, Six Flags, and many other amusement parks create special Halloween nights to do just that. Halloween with all its activities is designed to make us feel momentarily afraid or “safe scared” – all within the knowledge that we’re in a safe environment. However, in the real world, real terror exists. Starvation, natural disasters, and war are not make-believe funhouse attractions.
There are many horror stories told in the Bible and we need to be cautious about softening the blow in the telling. So many stories, through the grace and mercy of God, have happy, inspirational endings but we shouldn’t miss the bigger picture. Scary Bible stories exist to teach us something about who God is and to trust His miraculous power.
The world is clearly in a scary place today but we must not lose sight of what is even more horrific: our disobedience. When we don’t obey God, we cut off our spiritual food supplies. When we choose our own self-interests and follow false gods of fame, fortune, and power, terrible life changing consequences happen. Clearly, scripture reveals where these choices lead when we give up our faith in God.
This Halloween read the rest of this scary story in II Kings 6:29 – 7:20 from the comfort of your safe place. Read how God miraculously brought food to the king’s starving people, and then read how one man, (the king’s confidant) continued to mock God’s power and paid with his life.
Sometimes we just never learn.
As this “fun safe-scary” holiday unfolds, read this horror story to your age-appropriate children and grandchildren and let them know that even in the most terrifying moments, God is still at work.
Kathleen Cooke’s new devotional “Hope 4 Today: Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture” encourages readers to engage with God. As co-founder of Cooke Pictures (cookepictures.com) and The Influence Lab, she publishes a monthly newsletter (influencelab.com/women). Find out more at kathleencooke.com, or reach her on Twitter @KathleenRCooke