Just because It’s Better, Doesn’t Mean It’s Over – HG Inspired Devo

“Although I do not yet understand Cinna’s design, it’s a reminder the Games are not quite finished.  And beneath his benign reply, I sense a warning.  Of something he can’t even mention in front of his own team.”[1]

It was all over!  Katniss won the games.  Now she could breathe; she was safe.

It had to feel so much better.  The adrenaline rush of knowing someone could be throwing a dagger at you at any moment was over.  Katniss went from sleeping in trees and caves to a comfortable bed.  She no longer had to eat food she caught herself—she had the Capitol’s finest chef’s cooking Panem’s delicacies for her.  She no longer had to fear thirst or hunger.  She could bathe and she wore clean clothes…beautiful clothes, made by Cinna, just for her.  It must have felt so much better.

Something warned her though.  Something in the clothes Cinna made for her and in his manner and words warned Katniss not to be fooled by “better.”  Just because things felt good and friendly, just because her circumstances seemed much improved from the games, it didn’t mean the danger was over.  Indeed it wasn’t.

In some ways, Katniss was in even more danger now than ever.  At least in the games she could feel the presence of danger.  Now, however, things felt good.  The danger was still there, but it was much more hidden than before.  In the games, Katniss was pretty clear on who her enemies were; but now, in the Capitol, it was hard to distinguish friend from foe.  Katniss had to be even more on guard than ever—she had to be on guard against the temptation to get comfortable.  It would be too easy to lose her edge.  Things were better for the moment, but they weren’t over.  The enemy was still out there, wanting to assert power and oppression over the people.

I have heard it said that there are two battles to fight:  The battle to get free and the battle to stay free.  How many addicts have you known who have gotten free of a thing for a period of time, only to fall prey to it once again (and again and again)?  I met a guy recently who had been in and out of drug rehabs eighteen times.  Each time he felt he had won the battle, but later fell into drugs again.  Why?  Because there are two battles—the battle to get free and the battle to stay free.  He got free of it, but he couldn’t stay free of it.[2]

I suspect this is because we are all tempted to think that when something gets better, it’s over.  When this man’s drug urges got better, he stopped being so vigilant because he thought the battle was over.  The Bible has a warning (followed by a promise) that I think applies to this very issue.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  No temptationhas overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.[3]

Do you see the warning?  Don’t even think that you’re standing firm—you aren’t.  Not only that, but it seems to indicate that your danger of falling increases in direct proportion to your confidence that you won’t.  It’s kind of common sense, really—you’re an easier target when you let your guard down… so don’t let your guard down!

The promise is on the heels of the warning.  I almost feel like it’s to keep people from despairing after that warning.  As if to say, “Don’t worry; you don’t have to fall.  Don’t get too comfortable, confident, or big for your britches (or else you are just asking to be humbled by a big old humiliating fall).  Look to God and know that He is faithful; He won’t let you be tempted beyond your capacity to withstand it (with His help), and trust Him to always provide a way out of the temptation.  God will help you get free and He’ll help you stay free—if you look to Him to do it.”

We look to God for his help all the time when we find ourselves in the midst of the “games.”  When we are in the battle of our lives, whatever that may be, we feel our vulnerability so we look to God for help.  It’s when that fight is over that we get comfortable.  When we get comfortable, we quit looking to God for help.  We think we’ve won.  We forget that as long as we are on this earth we still have an enemy and are still in a battle.

When Katniss sensed Cinna’s warning (even though she wasn’t initially sure what the danger was) she had two possible responses.  She could either heed his warning or disregard it.  It would have been tempting to ignore it for any number of reasons.  (For example, she might have felt her survival skills were good enough to protect her since she just won the Hunger Games and all.  She could have felt that, being a celebrity and a hero, the favor of the mob would protect her.  Or maybe she was tempted to feel she had earned some rest and privilege.  She also could have felt she was too insignificant to be a threat to the Capitol, and therefore the warning was unnecessary.)  Despite the temptations to the contrary, Katniss humbly and wisely chose to heed Cinna’s warning—and Cinna was right about the danger that was lurking.

You and I have the same choice to make.  The Bible has issued us a warning that we too are in danger of falling.  If we choose to ignore that warning, for whatever reason, the danger we are facing instantly increases.  If we choose to the heed the warning, we have the promise of God’s help, protection, and deliverance.

Friends, be warned.  As long as you and I live on earth, though things may seem better, they are not over.  Your only hope is to look to God who is faithful and who has overcome the world.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Questions for Discussion:

  • What battles have you fought in your life?
  • Have you ever fought to get free of something, but found that you ultimately failed to stay free of it?  If you can’t think of a personal example, can you think of any example?
  • We talked about reasons Katniss might be tempted to ignore Cinna’s warning.  What reasons might you be tempted to ignore Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians?  (In other words, why might you think you aren’t in any danger of falling?)
  • What areas in your life are better than they used to be?  What are the warning signs that things may be better, but they aren’t over?
  • What is your response to the promise that you don’t have to fall?  (Surprise, encouragement, disbelief, etc.?)
  • Would you say that you tend more towards being overwhelmed by your vulnerability (leads to fear and even paralysis) or towards being over confident in your abilities (leads to blind spots and arrogance)?  How would you describe a healthy balance between those two extremes?

 –By Stacey Tuttle

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[1] P. 365

[2]I’m happy to say that when he found Jesus he finally found the power to get free and to STAY free!  Hallelujah!

[3] 1 Corinthians 10:12-13