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Like a Roaring Lion
by Karen Burkhart
"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 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."
(1 Peter 5:8-10)
When our boys were little, we lived less than two miles from the Columbus Zoo. Occasionally, while outside playing, or working in the yard, we could hear the roar of a lion. It always stopped us in our tracks and sparked our imaginations—what if it were to get loose and wander into our neighborhood? After all, we’d heard stories of lions escaping their enclosures before!
Did you know that every year in the world about 250 people are attacked by lions? Amazingly, not all of them are killed! You may be surprised to learn that running away or climbing a tree are not winning defense strategies against lions. Apparently, the best defense is standing one’s ground, staying calm, and demonstrating strength. In short, do the opposite of everything your fearful heart tells you to do!
While I hope you’ll never have to remember this prescription during an encounter in nature, I encourage you to keep the strategy in mind for spiritual encounters with our enemy who "prowls like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." It may seem obvious why the Holy Spirit chose to liken Satan to a lion, after all, the lion is the most feared predator in the wild. It’s called the King of Jungle for good reason. Interestingly, though Jesus never called Satan, “King,” he did refer to him as the “Prince of the World.” I’m guessing Satan is fond of being likened to a lion and to royalty because since his beginning he’s been hell-bent on becoming God, who actually is The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Curiously, Satan isn’t just likened to a lion in today’s passage, he’s likened to a roaring lion. Though I can recognize a lion’s roar, I have never understood why or when a lion roars, so I did a little research. The first thing I learned is that a lion will roar to instill fear and mark its territory. This roar may be directed at other lions or animals who are threatening it in some way, or at its prey. I also learned that a lion will never roar after a kill but will roar if frustrated while attempting a take-down.
Next time you hear the roar of your enemy, which may sound like ferocious accusations, savage slander, or vicious lies, instead of turning your back to run in fear, resist him by standing your ground, remaining calm, and demonstrating strength. How? Speak truth back to him, just like Jesus did when he was tempted in the wilderness—truth about God, truth about your redeemed self, and truth about him and his future in the bottomless pit. Chances are, he'll roar louder for a while, but remember, he's just frustrated by not being able to devour you, so speak the truth louder still.
Father, thank you for leaving us your Holy Word that contains everything we need to live the life you've called us and empowered us to live. Thank you for the encouragement and perspective it brings. We know we can face any battle head-on when You are with us and eternity is in view.