How do you know when to stay in a difficult situation, or when to walk away, or even run?
You ask God.
Kenny Rogers is one of my husband Ray’s favorite country music artists. I saw him years ago in a little restaurant-bar in California, but didn’t know who he was then. I really like one of the songs he sings, The Gambler. It is very prophetic about life and has wise advice. Some of the refrain’s lyrics are:
“He said, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run.”
I believe there’s 4 spiritual principles to these lyrics, that I’d like to share with you today:
- Hold ’em. That we as believers in Christ are in a spiritual battle every day is a given. Ephesians 6:12, NASB, says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” There is a raging, unseen war around you and me every day. Sometimes we get tired and worn out, but we must never give up or give in to our enemy Satan, as Christ has the victory. Ephesians 6:13, New Heart English Bible, says, “Therefore, put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.” This is what “hold ’em” means when you’re fighting a battle , to stand your ground and not let the enemy advance or conquer you, despite being fired at by guns, tanks, and helicopters, a blockade cutting off food, water, and supplies, guerrilla attacks,, walking through mine fields, or more : in military terms, stand fast.
- Fold ’em. In a card game, you fold by laying down your hands and stop playing the hand. You give it up and are out for that hand. You don’t place any more bets. In life, we fold ’em by surrendering. Not, and never, surrendering to the devil, but to God. You learn to let go of all control, let Jesus take the wheel, and allow God to have His way in and through your life. You die to self. You allow Christ to increase and you decrease for His glory. You trust God knows best for your life in this hard situation, and take it one step at a time, day by day (John 3:30)
- Walk away. If you were on Facebook at all since last year, you saw how the presidential election caused a storm of controversy, even dividing Christian family and friends. It was a shame, and grieved God’s heart to see so many of His children attacking each other, when the real enemy in this world is Satan. Titus 3:9, NASB, says, “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” Sometimes we just need to walk away from a situation, and not engage in strife or drama because it will just result in division, hurt feelings, offenses, and more. Be wise and walk; walk toward God!
- Run. In boot camp, soldiers are trained to follow orders, be tough, and the long term strategy is to defeat the enemy, not to run away in fear and hide. However, there is a concept in battle called “withdrawal,” which is retreating forces back while maintaining contact with the enemy or totally disengaging for a moment. A withdrawal may be used as part of a general retreat, to consolidate forces, to occupy ground that is more easily defended, or to lead the enemy into an ambush. It’s risky, requiring discipline to keep from turning into a disorganized rout (a chaotic, disorganized retreat resulting in the enemy’s victory) or at the very least doing severe damage to the military’s morale. (Source: Wikipedia) There IS a perfect Biblical example for running from the enemy, though: Joseph, who ran from Potiphar’s wife who was seducing him to come to bed with her. (Genesis 39:12). Instead, Joseph did what was right and winded up going to prison for his faith, later being raised up by God to be second in command in the land. At times we need to run from temptation or a situation that is not good for us or our loved ones.
Pray to God and ask for discernment and His wisdom in your specific situation and what you should do. No matter what the hard circumstances are that you’re facing right now, remember that you are more than a conquer through Christ.
You can read my book on spiritual warfare, eight women’s stories of their greatest spiritual battles through faith in Christ, The Hands of a Woman: Everyday Women in Everyday Battles, by clicking on the link below:
You can hear Kenny Roger’s song The Gambler by clicking on the video below: