I grew up in church. My father and grandfather were both ministers. I spent some time running from God in my 20s, but I was always His. From an early age I remember words from the Bible that my mom would quote and my dad would preach. They are written in I Peter 5, and I’ll quote the phrase in context because the verses right before and after are so wise:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 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.
This is what I thought of when I heard about lions in the Bible. Basically, the devil is a lion. That and I thought of the children’s Bible story of Daniel and the Lions Den.
But recently I heard two songs on the radio using lion imagery. Really different takes on the picture of lions and faith. They made me think a lot about lions. And the Bible. So I did some investigating. Did you know that there are 119 references to lion(s) in the Bible? There’s SO much to unpack in this study I’m doing on lions that I could write about it for two weeks. But since you’re probably less enchanted with lions than I am, I’m just writing about it for two days.
So today I’m looking at this idea of lions as a picture of struggles we have that are unseen. This is a little esoteric, but I believe that there is good and evil in this world. I believe that the good is from God and the bad is from another supernatural force that I call the devil. I also believe that good wins the war, but sometimes bad wins the battle. I don’t understand a lot of what happens in this world, so that’s my very simplistic explanation. It’s a battlefield that I can’t completely understand or see and sometimes bad takes the battle. My hope and my faith allow me to press on because I don’t believe that’s the end of it. The war is not over.
I’ve seen that in my own life. I have seen the bad and lost battles – both my own personal battles and battles of those closely connected to my life. I do believe that the force for bad in the world seizes on the bad things that you do or the hard stuff you experience and tries to derail your whole life because of it. Heck, I’ve seen that trick work. I watched my parents go through an ugly divorce, I experienced having no material possessions, I struggled with an eating disorder, I sought validation from guys who had no idea how to value (or validate) a woman, I over-did everything from drinking to spending. It could have derailed me permanently. Those stronger than I am have fought, and lost, similar battles. But this passage on lions gives me comfort. The supernatural evil MAY BE prowling around like a lion seeking to devour, BUT (don’t you love that there’s a but there) you do not let him. Resist. Stand on your faith. Know you are not alone. Others around the world are fighting too. Sigh: “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.” You do suffer first. A little while. But you will be restored. Made strong. Firm. Steadfast.
I leave you with the song that takes a look at God closing the mouth of that lion (by Mercy Me):
I’ve been the one held down in chains
Beneath the weight of all my shame
I’ve been the one to believe
That where I am You cannot reach
You’re the one who conquers giants
You’re the one who calls out kings
You shut the mouths of lions
You tell the dead to breathe
You’re the one who walks through fire
You take the orphan’s hand
You are the one Messiah
You are I am