Sticks and stones
May break my bones,
But words will never hurt me.
Who ever came up with that one??
It's the silliest thing I've ever heard.
Any of us know that words have the power to injure us deeply – to hurt us where the wounds don't show.
And taunting is a powerful weapon.
I've had times in my life when other people hurt me by giving me unflattering nicknames, by making fun of me, by teasing and poking at my shortcomings.
I'm sure you have, too.
It isn't fun.
It hurts – a lot.
Today I am reminded of something else, though. We are told in God's Word that we do not battle against flesh and blood. That we have a very real, and very fierce, enemy.
Satan – the Accuser.
And he loves taunting the faithful. Nothing delights him more than persecuting God's own children.
He is cruel and conniving and clever and cold-hearted. His words have the power to destroy. He fashions weapons uniquely – tailor-making them for each individual. Honed to evil perfection, he aims those weapons at our weakest spots. And oh, how it hurts when they find their target.
Sometimes I think I can hear him cackle…
It gets discouraging sometimes, doesn't it? Constantly being attacked by someone who hates you so much. His words feel like spiritual sticks and stones – and they break us.
You know what I think his worst words are?
"Where is your God?"
Sometimes the enemy has other people deliver those words, and sometimes he whispers them himself into our very souls.
Today's "Bible Pick 'Ems" is found in Psalms, and I think it is a rousing answer to that particular taunt:
"So many are saying, 'God will never rescue him!'
But you, O LORD, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
I cried out to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy mountain.
I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the LORD was watching over me.
I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side.
Arise, O LORD!
Rescue me, my God!
Slap all my enemies in the face!
Shatter the teeth of the wicked!
Victory comes from you, O LORD.
May you bless your people." (Psalms 3:2-8)
Can I get a holy WOO HOO from my blogging audience?!
I want to break this passage down a bit.
First of all, sometimes the best answer to any taunt from the enemy is these words – But God…
In spite of all the accusations, all the attacks, all the posturing and taunting – there are the simple words – BUT GOD.
Tell me what you may, enemy of mine, BUT GOD has saved me. You may try to enslave me, BUT GOD has broken the power of sin and death in my life. You may try to make me feel guilty, BUT GOD has forgiven and redeemed me. You may try to tell me that I am worthless, BUT GOD loves me.
Second, God is a shield.
From the book of Ephesians, we are told that the shield of God is a powerful defensive weapon: "…hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil." (Ephesians 6:16)
The shield of God – Faith, the unswerving belief in God's Truth – is impenetrable. It surrounds us with protection. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but faith will save our souls.
Third, God is our glory.
We are weak, He is strong. Paul tells us to boast only in what Jesus Christ has done for us. But oh, we can boast on THAT proudly, confidently, hopefully! It is our Savior's gift of salvation, and His promise of life everlasting, that enables us to hold our heads high. We can be proud because we reflect HIS glory.
Fourth, the Lord hears us.
He listens to our cries. He doesn't miss a thing. He hears the loud wails, the silent tears, the grief that's too deep to express. We are given this tremendous promise:
"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle." (Psalms 56:8)
And I believe that one day all those tears will be poured out in Heaven – mixed with the blood of Christ – a final offering that will be swallowed up in the joy of everlasting life –never to be wept again.
Next, God gives us peace.
He never slumbers, He never sleeps. He is watching over us all the time. He hovers over us like parents over the crib of a newborn baby. Ever watchful, ever vigilant, ever our jealous and protective Father.
We are not out of His sight…ever!
Not even when we are surrounded by enemies – not even when we are accused or attacked, not even when we're the victims of persecution. Not even when it's the devil himself posturing and taunting. Rest assured, God sees.
So finally, because of all this, we can do some *trash talking* back to that old enemy of ours – (a sports term for "the art of telling another person off"):
The LORD will arise, my enemy.
My God will rescue me.
He will slap you in the face!
He will shatter your wicked teeth!
Victory comes from Him.
And He WILL bless His people.
Take that, you tired old devil.
God has spoken.
How can you claim these verses in your fight against the Accuser?
"When in doubt, search God out!"