While waiting to pass through a security checkpoint in an airport, I began listening to a video a friend sent me that featured a man telling a story. I don’t remember the details of the story but I remember how the man standing in front of me responded — he was incensed that the video included Christian themes and asked me with indigence, “You don’t really believe that do you?”
Initially, I was stunned by his reaction and immediately realized he wanted to antagonize me so I said with confidence, “I recommend you continue walking forward” — the queue ahead of him had moved on and he was standing looking back being belligerent toward me. He continued forward and when he arrived at his new place in the line, he turned back to continue to offer taunts. I wondered if I should respond but quickly realized that doing so would likely escalate the situation. So I simply stood and continued to listen to the video. He then offered a few choice words and seemed to grow more upset.
In hindsight after the encounter, I should thank him. I now have a strategy for facing hatred and the spirit of intimidation that I’d like to share with you:
Stand firm then
The thought that we are encouraged to stand rather than flee in the face of intimidation is one meant to remind us that we do not stand alone. We stand in an awareness of our identity and the knowledge that with God all things are possible — even confidence in the face of intimidation. This truth grants courage and confidence even in the most unstable contexts.
I knew it would be unlikely for the man to resort to physical violence at the airport among so many people. But that does not mean he wouldn’t have in a different setting. Here’s what I learned — when faced with intimidation it’s important to remain aware of how your setting either works to your advantage or poses further challenges.
Do not respond in a like manner
I considered answering his deluge of questioning but I chose to not respond. As I continued to stand I discovered this man was not looking for answers, but instead he was looking for a reason to argue. A verse from the Book of Proverbs on not answering a person according to their folly came immediately to mind and reassured me that silence, when used strategically, can be a weapon.
Never doubt that God is with you
When we face hatred, and it’s likely that we all will at some point in life, know that God is present. His presence will offer peace in the midst of a storm and the courage to not bow nor stoop to the level of immaturity, hatred or evil with which you are presented.
Finally, and most importantly, do what God directs
Depending on the circumstance God may direct you to do any number of things — walk in a different direction; say something to challenge the behavior; call on help from others; pray out loud; remain silent at a particular time; kneel to pray. I don’t know what circumstances you may encounter that are promoted by hate but I know God will be with you and because he is present he will be sure to direct you.
If those times come, God will direct you by granting you wisdom — so be sure to ask him for it. Two sure promises that steady me day-by-day follow:
The secret [of the wise counsel] of the Lord is for those who fear Him… — Psalm 25:14a AMP
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. — James 1:5 NLT
In closing, I offer this simple benediction: May God bless you, may he make his countenance to shine upon you and grant you peace and protection even in the day of hatred, in Jesus’ name.