Running away and hiding might seem like the safest options when we are under attack, but faith offers us another way. God gives us shelter when necessary, but then He pushes us forward to fight our battles with new strength.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.

Ephesians 6:10 NIV

You armed me with strength for battle.

You humbled my adversaries before me.

Psalm 18:39 NIV

Jonathan first got comfortable with the idea of retreating when he was a 9-year-old boy at summer camp. Earlier that year, he had been given a large Batman T-shirt as a birthday present. That shirt was Jonathan’s prized possession, and he thought nothing of the fact that it hung a bit too low for his height—until he started getting teased about it.

The “cool” kids at camp started called Jonathan’s long T-shirt a dress. They said it looked as if he wasn’t wearing any pants, and eventually, when the teasing got too loud, Jonathan ran back to his bunk and cried alone so that no one else would see his pain. After a while of crying by himself, Jonathan noticed that he felt better. He noticed that retreating seemed to be a pretty good option when in trouble.

When Jonathan was in high school, his first real girlfriend unexpectedly ended their relationship the day after junior prom. After that breakup, Jonathan felt the familiar urge to retreat in order to protect himself, so he avoided serious relationships with girls throughout college and well into his twenties.

When Jonathan started his first real job out of business school, the demanding bosses and screaming customers at the investment office rattled him. By that point in life, Jonathan’s first instinct in the face of threats or heartache was to retreat—he was resigned to the fact that he was simply too sensitive or too weak for the rest of the world—so he prepared to quit the office. By this point, Jonathan had pretty much accepted that his single status would be a forever thing, too, and the combination of not being in a relationship and not fitting in at the office was about to push him into a permanent prison of seclusion and depression. However, before such a terrifying descent could happen, Jonathan found a spiritual website that gave him new ideas about himself.

The spiritual website Jonathan found proposed that his sensitive personality was a gift rather than a curse, and it also featured daily inspirational messages that spoke about finding true strength through God. For the first time, Jonathan began to consider that maybe he could be a warrior instead of running away from the things that hurt or frightened him. He started to build inner strength through spirituality, and he soon found the courage to enter a profession he actually enjoyed. And shortly after becoming a grade school teacher, Jonathan also found the courage to ask out the woman who would later become his wife, a woman who truly appreciated the unique elements of his makeup.

Retreat is often our first instinct in the face of difficulty or pain. We often flee from threatening people and intimidating situations because we feel weak or unworthy of victory, and then we cry by ourselves, resigned to some tragic life. At times, retreating can seem like the safe and smart choice, but we need to know that God offers us other options. He does indeed offer us a safe place to withdraw to when we are under fire, but rather than encouraging us to stay hidden there, He gives us comfort and then pushes us forward with new perspective, new resolve, and new spiritual strength. He helps us to fight daily battles, and eventually, because of how we grow with Him, life no longer seems like such a struggle.

Today, know that God is waiting to give you safety and a way forward. If you truly seek Him, then He will make you a warrior who capable of defending both your honor and His while capturing the best things that life has to offer.

Prayer: Dear God, I truly don’t want to be afraid and alone anymore. Please give me shelter, strength, and a new way of living.

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Michael S. Priebe, Lovely Grind author & web creator

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