We finally took the kids to see Cars 3 at the $2 theater last weekend (family of 5 x full-price movie tickets + candy + popcorn = not gonna happen). We’d gotten some news about a friend’s child passing away tragically that day, and I honestly just wanted to keep my ducklings with me safely and snugly for a few hours of innocence and joy.
I was rocked that day. I was spiraling into despair and discouragement at the brokenness of this world. How can we go on, putting two feet in front of the other, when senseless pain surrounds us? I kept telling myself, “Jesus can fix anything. He will make beauty from ashes. His Mercy knows no bounds.” But my human fear was beating my spiritual faith.
Towards the end of the movie, Lightning is coaching his protégé Cruz, when the big bad bully comes up to her and taunts her about not belonging in racing, and she should just quit and go home. Cruz almost quits, but Lightning comes to the rescue just in time, and says, “Did you see what just happened? You got in his head! He’s the one who’s scared of you, not the other way around!” Cruz realizes Lightning is right and rallies to win the race!
At times it is when the Enemy is afraid of us that attacks come. We’re not just surviving life, we’re killing it! We’re enjoying life, pouring ourselves out to bless others, having great relationships, and feeling like we’re pleasing the Father.
I have some very close friends who have been walking through fire the last two years. I wouldn’t wish what they’ve had to go through on my worst enemy. They faced every single challenge with integrity, courage, conviction, and steadfastness. They finally seemed to be nearing the finish line with all but a few loose ends tied up. In celebration and restoration, one of these friends took a mission trip where she saw God moving in ways some of us can only dream of seeing this side of Heaven. Upon returning home, the gates of hell had once again been opened up and the fire was reignited with a vengeance. Coincidence?
1 Peter 5:8 says, “Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
When lions in Africa are hunting their prey, the male lion roars. The prey runs from the roar, unwittingly right into the jaws of the female lion who is the real killer of the pride. That’s what the Enemy is doing to us in these times of fear and discouragement. He’s roaring, hoping you’ll run away from his roar, directly into being swallowed alive by fear.
But there’s hope. The very next verses say, “Resist him [the devil], standing firm in the faith…And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
A few things we can remember from this:
First of all, the enemy seeks whom he may devour. “May” means he must have permission to devour you. You always have a choice which way you run. You can run towards the fear (or anxiety, or worry, or depression) or you can run towards the Father’s restoration. He’s the only one who promises to make you strong, firm and steadfast. The Bible says, “Come near to God and He will come near to you (James 3:8). But right before that it says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” So who do you think is in charge? The Spirit of God is in you! YOU have the power to make the devil run scared just like the big bully he is.
Secondly, we know from watching nature videos in school that the lion attacks the one who’s been separated from the pack. 2 Corinthians 13:11 says, “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort and encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” Be with people who encourage you, can lift you up, can help you in both emotional and practical ways.
Lastly, 1 John 5:18 says, “Perfect love drives out fear.” We as humans will never be able to attain perfect love, but we can rest in the knowledge that God’s love is perfect, and if we allow Him to, He will drive out any fear we’re experiencing.
Obviously this barely scratches the surface of defending ourselves when the Enemy either whispers in our ears, or launches a full-frontal assault. If you feel like this is where you are, I’d encourage you to take some time this week to study the Word for yourself and let God minister to your battle wounds. Then, just for added measure, go sit in a movie theater filled with giggly kids and see what profound life lessons you too can learn from a cartoon.