The Best Way to Fight Our Battles

One thing I remember about growing up is my single mother supporting me without exception. Sticking up for me, fighting my battles. I guess that’s what the mothers of fatherless children are prone to do. Support. Defend. Which is why you don’t get between a momma bear and her cub. And the steadfast backing was not conditional on how well we were getting along either. Before leaving home for college, at the tender age of 17, my mother and I could barely be in the same room without one of us taking some kind of offense. Still, and without even realizing it, I knew she had my back. It’s exactly the kind of unconditional support we receive from God, also regardless of the quality of the relationship or whether we realize it or not. This is from Philippians 4:  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

There are many layers to this Scripture. “Be anxious for nothing” is one of the most familiar: in other words- don’t worry, be happy…in the Lord. Yes. But another facet resonates thanks to a commentary from Commentary is analysis and interpretation from a Biblical expert and/or scholar, offered to help us make sense of a collection of sacred books, written thousands of years ago in another time and place, that we call the Bible. Biblical commentary is like a movie review we seek out after we’ve experienced a film, not to glean whether we should go see it, but rather to understand more fully what it is that we’ve seen. Thanks to this Biblical commentary, the word gentleness jumps out for me today. My understanding of this key concept is pretty straightforward- patience, softness, modesty. Meekness even, as in “the meek shall inherit the earth,” which is what Jesus famously preaches in Mathew 5. And it does mean these things, but in Greek, the primary language the Bible was written in, gentleness also means an unwillingness to litigate or argue, describing a person who “lets the Lord fight their battles.” When we are wronged, there is no need to attack or defend. Resisting the natural urge to strike back rests in the faith that the Lord has our back and will handle things His way. Similarly, “turning the other cheek,” another of Jesus’ most enduring teachings, doesn’t mean failing to stick up for ourselves or defending our interests. Nor does it involve letting people take advantage of us. It describes a person, the commentary continues, who is “free to let go of their anxieties and all the things that cause them stress, because they know that the Lord will take up their cause.” Doesn’t that seem like a beautiful way to live? Without a doubt, this kind of childlike faith is hard to conjure as world-weary adults but that’s exactly what Jesus calls us to do. Therefore, we can be sure it’s in our best interests to do so. Overcoming the impulse to fight back requires greater strength than the alternative and reaps rewards more abundantly. Try it and see. Because it’s contrary to worldly wisdom, our skepticism may be automatic, until we put it into practice and see how well it works. The song pairing is “Lighthouse.” Until next time, stay safe, be brave and keep walking in the light.

The sun rises,
my heart is clean
You are with me Lord
in a beautiful dream

and then I’m drifting
out here on my own
and then I’m lost Lord
so far from home

You are my lighthouse
You are my Lord
You are my lighthouse
You are my Lord

You are my beacon
You’re never out of sight
You are my lighthouse
Your rooms are filled with light

Up ahead now
there’s a peaceful shore
You are with me Lord
I don’t need anymore

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