Right up front, let me confess that I’m not an expert on lions and their behavior. I’ve seen just enough Wild Kingdom and National Geographic episodes to be a bit informed. And that leads me to a problem. The big cats (and the little cats) seem to hunt mostly by stealth, making Peter’s metaphor in 1 Peter 5:8 a bit difficult to connect up.
Peter wrote, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8–9, NASB95) Perhaps some of my readers can enlighten this more than I can. But from what I’ve seen, lions roar after the hunt or feel threatened or communicate with other lions.
So why does Peter liken the devil’s desire to destroy the faith of God’s children to a “roaring lion seeking someone to devour?” I don’t know if it works this way in the wild or not. I could see a hunting behavior where the lion roars, inducing fear and causing the herd to run, exposing the weak and easy to bring down. I have no idea if that is a real behavior or not. But that inducement to fear is a striking connection to what Peter is encouraging.
When the lion roars, when the devil growls, we can try to run in fear or stand our ground in faith. Peter is encouraging his readers to resist with firmness of faith. Fear is a potent tool of our enemy, driving us from our faith. It could be the fear of failure, of not being good enough, of not being accepted, or of not being forgiven. Our lion’s roar induced fears could be in any area of life. There’s plenty of fears to go around.
But there is one thing which conquers our fears, our faith in Christ. James wrote something similar, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7, NASB95) When the lion roars, our inclination will be to run; to find safety and shelter. Fears are not conquered by running from them, but by standing firm in Christ against them. If we do that, if we stand firm, we’ll learn that our fears are based on nothing, but noise and our faith in Christ has substance.
Standing on faith doesn’t mean that the very real challenges of life suddenly disappear. But the fear caused by them does evaporate. Just like I don’t know all the hunting behaviors of lions, I don’t know what fears are roaring in your ears today. What I do know is that God loves you, Jesus died for you, and that God has a purpose and destiny for you. As Jesus taught, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10, NASB95)