In the documentary series, Blue Planet, David Attenborough led us to believe that the gulper eel has such a big mouth so he can take advantage of extra-large meals. For, Attenborough explains, he never knows when his next meal will come along.
But recently some scientists discovered another use—perhaps the primary use—of the gulper eel’s enormous mouth. He uses it to scare off predators. When it closes its mouth, the gulper eel’s jawbones fold backwards against its slender body, making it appear as slim as any other eel. But when alarmed, the gulper’s folded-back jawbones spring outward and open like an umbrella—making its face appear 100 times bigger. To be face to face with the gulper, when its face virtually explodes in size, is probably an intimidating experience for other fish. It startled the scientists as they watched the submersible’s video of the creature. But when his scare tactics failed, he quickly turned into his slender little self again and scurried away.
This deception is not unlike the tactics Satan uses to bully and intimidate believers. We all know the adage that storms tend to come in like a lion and depart like a lamb. Their attack is frightening. But their departure is so subtle that it’s barely noticeable. By the time a storm departs, we’re still cringing in a fetal position. We’re still hiding under the sofa long after the storm has silently snuck away.
That’s the way the devil operates. Some actual event may disappoint or disturb us. Yet Satan wastes no time taking advantage of those negative events. He blows the event way out of proportion. He spews out a thousand dark thoughts to make us fear that God’s abandoned us. Satan tempts us to believe the worst of our fears has come upon us. And he floods our minds with poisonous and perverse lies.
At such times we need to cling to the rock-solid promises of God as never before. In the heat of Satan’s attack, God’s word may be the only bit of sanity left to us.
But Satan is not really out for a fight in his attacks. Peter called him a ravenous, roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). Lions do not roar when they’re actually hunting. They use stealth in hunting. Satan roars not to kill but to frighten. James assures us that if we resist him, he will flee (James 4:7). He’s like the gulper eel. He’s all mouth and he uses his mouth more to frighten than to eat. But if we stand up to him, armed with the word of God, he has no choice but to shrink back to normal size and slither away (Matthew 4:1–11).
Unfortunately, Satan’s attacks succeed in scaring believers under the bed. And they’re still under the bed long after the attack is over. Sadly, he’s probably succeeded in getting believers to doubt God and to accuse Him of forsaking them. “Did You bring me out here to abandon me? Why did I ever put my trust in You?” Sound familiar? It’s the same pattern of unbelief the Israelites succumbed to every time they faced a little adversity. “Was it because there were not enough graves in Egypt that You brought us out into the desert to die? If only we were still back in Egypt, where we had bread and meat in abundance” (Exodus 14:11–12; 15:24; 16:3; 17:2–3; Numbers 11:1–6; 14:1-4; 16:12–14; etc.). Those Israelites eventually brought God’s judgment upon themselves. They ultimately lost their opportunity to enter the Promised Land and died an embittered lot in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:1-12).
Is that how we react every time affliction, disappointment, and trouble comes our way? Please don’t get in the habit of always accusing God. It’s devastating to your faith and to your relationship with God. It hardens your heart and blinds you to the vast storehouse of blessings that God has poured into your life.
Don’t believe the devil’s lies. He’s all mouth. Do not fear him. Greater is God who is in you than Satan who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Only God is to be feared. Jesus went so far as to say, “Do not fear those who kill the body—and can do nothing beyond that. Rather, fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Yes, there is such a thing as a healthy fear of God. We should fear displeasing God, disobeying Him, wrongfully accusing Him, and overlooking all the wonderful things He has done for us (Deuteronomy 6:24; 10:12-13, 20; Psalm 34:9; Proverbs 1:7;9:10).
Dear Father in heaven, Satan is always trying to wear me out with worry and make me cower with fear. Please open my eyes to see through his lies. Please help me to arm myself with Your holy word, the Scripture. Help me to exercise the faith You’ve so graciously given me, that my faith will grow strong and steadfast. Please keep my heart soft and tender toward You but resistant to Satan and sin. Amen.