Stand Up to the Bear


I’ve spent the last week in bear country. Everywhere you go there are signs giving warnings, telling you what to do and what not to do. Don’t leave food out. Carry bear spray. Travel in groups. Don’t go off the trail. Now these are all things that you are to do before you actually meet a bear. You do everything you can to avoid the encounter. But when you actually meet a bear, the rules change. There’s no more avoidance. For most of us, our proclivity would then be to run. Get out of the way of danger. Flee the scene as fast as you can.

Running is actually the opposite of what you are supposed to do. You are to stop, remain calm and ENGAGE the bear. First, make your presence large. Take up your space. Next begin to speak calmly and firmly to the bear in order to let him know that you are human.

Taking up your space and using your voice are what will keep you safe when you encounter a bear.

Now isn’t life like this sometimes? As I consider the difficult circumstances I am facing, perhaps ones that I worked hard to avoid all together, what is my response? Do I run from pain and trouble? Shrink in the face of opposition? This is certainly my tendency. I’d rather just get the heck out of there when the storm starts to rage. Sometimes though, the best thing for us is not actually to run, but rather to engage.

When we engage we allow ourselves to lean into our struggles rather than shrink back in the face of difficulties. Of course, we don’t seek out problems, but when faced with one we are called to courage, called to stand firm and not to fear. In the Word of God, fear not is repeated hundreds of times. And this was not simply a suggestion, it was a command. We are exhorted to take courage in the face of difficult circumstances. The truth of the matter is this: our courage is a result of the Lord’s presence in our lives.

This is clearly stated in Joshua 1:9.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

So today, where are you letting fear cause you to shrink back or to run? When faced with a problem or difficulty, what is your response? If you, like me, are prone to fear, do this today:

  1. Enter into the presence of your Savior. In His presence we have nothing to fear.
  2. Identify the source of your fear and speak truth to it. Use your voice to claim the victory we have in Jesus Christ.

This is not some formula for making your problems go away, but it will help you engage so that you might be strong and courageous in the midst of every circumstance.

See you Sunday,