In our previous post we discussed how insolently proud, narcissistic bullies will use a position of power to coerce compliance on the part of others through bullying tactics. Sadly, until Jesus returns to set everything right, this will be part of the world we must navigate.
How do we deal with the bullies that inevitably cross our paths? Here are options we have:
- Avoid them – bullies may have the upper hand on their turf, but who says we have to stay on their turf and play their game?
- Try a power play – sometimes we’re in a position to “fight back”
- Get our “big brother” – sometimes we can recruit someone stronger (the image of bringing your big brother to the playground) to defend us
I had a friend tell me the story of his children bullied on the school bus on the way to school. One morning he got on the bus and told the bullies “This is going to end. The only question is how much pain you are going to take before you stop, because I will do whatever it takes until you stop”. In the face of what the bullies knew was an unwinnable battle, they stopped their bullying.
What if none of the above three options are available to us? We can take a bigger view of the situation and invite God to be our defender and protector.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
He is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
Psalm 94 addresses this perfectly. I encourage you to read it in its entirety.
O Lord, God of vengeance,
God of vengeance, shine forth!
2 Rise up, O Judge of the earth,
Render recompense to the proud.
3 How long shall the wicked, O Lord,
How long shall the wicked exult?
4 They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly;
All who do wickedness vaunt themselves.
5 They crush Your people, O Lord,
And afflict Your heritage.
6 They slay the widow and the stranger
And murder the orphans.
7 They have said, “The Lord does not see,
Nor does the God of Jacob pay heed.”
8 Pay heed, you senseless among the people;
And when will you understand, stupid ones?
9 He who planted the ear, does He not hear?
He who formed the eye, does He not see?
10 He who chastens the nations, will He not rebuke,
Even He who teaches man knowledge?
11 The Lord knows the thoughts of man,
[i]That they are a mere breath.
12 Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O Lord,
And whom You teach out of Your law;
13 That You may grant him relief from the days of adversity,
Until a pit is dug for the wicked.
14 For the Lord will not abandon His people,
Nor will He forsake His inheritance.
15 For judgment will again be righteous,
And all the upright in heart will follow it.
16 Who will stand up for me against evildoers?
Who will take his stand for me against those who do wickedness?
17 If the Lord had not been my help,
My soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence.
18 If I should say, “My foot has slipped,”
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up.
19 When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul.
20 Can a throne of destruction be allied with You,
One which devises mischief by decree?
21 They band themselves together against the life of the righteous
And condemn the innocent to death.
22 But the Lord has been my stronghold,
And my God the rock of my refuge.
23 He has brought back their wickedness upon them
And will destroy them in their evil;
The Lord our God will destroy them.
We can know for 3 things for certain:
- God sees what the bully is doing
- God is far stronger than the bully
- He cares about us
We always want a 1 on 1 power play that is obvious to all. God can and has done that – the Israelites exodus from Egypt is a prime example – an obvious power play. But He may work in other ways, seemingly less visible and less obviously direct. In His infinite wisdom He may deal with our bully in a way that does not obviously make us “the winner”, but He is nonetheless working. We may not even know until eternity how He dealt with them – but He will.