To say that I love my bird-feeding stations would be an understatement. A combination of seven feeders, varying in style and size, grace my property, helping to dot the landscape with the colors and sounds of nature. And seeds…we have them all here at the Winkle Nature Refuge: safflower and dried fruit for the brilliantly-colored cardinals; nyjer seed, or thistle, for the delicate finches, buntings, sparrows, and doves; sunflower seed for the unique nuthatches; suet for the woodpeckers and chickadees; cracked corn for the jays and blackbirds. But one fact becomes sadly evident while observing birds, and that is that bullying isn’t confined to a schoolyard where one bully can make life a living nightmare and send a child home in tears. Bullying is alive and well in my backyard as well.
There are those birds that are of the personal opinion that they are ‘bigger and badder’ than everyone else; they travel in packs, flushing all other birds from the feeders before these ‘birdie bullies’ commence to chow down, cleaning out seeders and suet cakes in the blink of an eye. Crows, cowbirds, grackles, and blue jays, among others, have that propensity to bully, to overwhelm and then to claim a feeding area, making it their own guarded domain. But fortunately, this isn’t a schoolyard, and I have some ammo in my bully-fighting armor. By adding shorter perches, caged feeders, seed that these birds disdain, and upside-down suet cakes, I can exploit the bullies’ vulnerabilities and weaknesses. I can gain the upper hand and even out the playing field for the smaller, less aggressive birds.
But what if a child is the object of the bullying? Do we attempt to find that bully’s weakness and use it against them? Do we act out in anger and revenge? How do we comfort a child who finds himself suffering the excruciating mental pain and deep hurt caused by another’s meanness? As always, the only comfort available from God’s Word, where we find that bullying has been alive and well for centuries. And as devastating as that bullying can be, solace is found in the fact that our God sees, knows, and will provide ultimate justice.
The prophet Daniel was born to a family of privilege; he was smart, well-favored, bound for success. But in accordance with God’s plan, Babylon would conquer Jerusalem, and young Daniel would be carried away from his homeland, his family, and all that was familiar to him, finding himself in a heathen land, far removed from his godly roots. But in spite of that dark situation, Daniel would rise to power in that strange land, all while retaining his loyalty, devotion, and faithfulness to his God. And as a reward for his steadfastness and integrity, Daniel would find himself the object of severe bullying by his fellow princes and presidents, men who would seek out any “occasion against Daniel,” any way to bring him down. Perhaps your child could be encouraged by this story of a faithful man who may have found himself literally in the midst of the lions, but in reality, never once left the strong hands of a just and loving God.
Years later, Esther would find herself the object of some intense anti-Semitic bullying, as the wicked Haman sought to exterminate her people with a bizarre evil plot to erase the very existence of the Jews. But in God’s providence, the victim would become the victor, the bully would be defeated, and God’s grace and redemption would be on full display for all to witness. Her faithful and courageous actions in the face of bullying would save her people from destruction and provide an annual celebration observed by God’s people to this day. Not a bad outcome for the victim of a bully!
But perhaps the greatest picture of bullying is that experienced by our Lord Jesus. As He graced our planet, Jesus was the epitome of kindness, compassion, and holiness. He truly loved and served others, and that sinless character attracted the attention of bullies, bullies who would follow him, criticize Him, interrupt His teaching, question His motives, and attempt to trip him up with every inquiry, bullies so consumed by their own self-worth and their own hate that they refused to see reason, unmoved by the convincing debate and persuasion of the Son of God. Jesus did not allow those ‘religious’ bullies to deter His mission to serve others and to draw others to Himself. He was smart and strategic, persevering even in the face of ugly opposition. His bullies would conspire to have Him arrested and eventually put to death, reveling in the victory that they thought was theirs. But three days later, Jesus triumphed over the grave AND the bullies; God’s truth and justice had won the day and secured salvation through the blood of that perfect, holy Lamb.
Parents, when dealing with the ugliness of bullying, remind your child that Jesus knows their struggle, He is familiar with the loneliness, He knows the pain and heartache. Call to their attention that when they find themselves in the throes of bullying, they are NOT alone, for God is with them, just as He was with Daniel, Esther, and His precious Son. He has a plan and He defends His own. Help them while they are young to find their solace in God’s Word, for only in those pages will they find the strength and courage to endure the difficult trials ahead and stand fast in the love of their Creator. .
Psalm 34:18a The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart…<div class='sharedaddy sd-block sd-like jetpack-likes-widget-wrapper jetpack-likes-widget-unloaded' id='like-post-wrapper-164683012-3367-62b68f0827fa1' data-src='https://widgets.wp.com/likes/#blog_id=164683012&post_id=3367&origin=wordpress.grandmasgleanings.com&obj_id=164683012-3367-62b68f0827fa1' data-name='like-post-frame-164683012-3367-62b68f0827fa1' data-title='Like or Reblog'><h3 class="sd-title">Like this:</h3><div class='likes-widget-placeholder post-likes-widget-placeholder' style='height: 55px;'><span class='button'><span>Like</span></span> <span class="loading">Loading...</span></div><span class='sd-text-color'></span><a class='sd-link-color'></a></div>