On the radio yesterday I heard a speaker draw an analogy about ‘monkey traps’. These traps are “a cage containing a banana with a hole large enough for a monkey’s hand to fit in, but not large enough for a monkey’s fist (clutching a banana) to come out. Used to “catch” monkeys that lack the intellect to let go of the banana and run away.”
In theory the trap is psychological. The monkey can’t get his hand out holding the banana (or whatever) but the monkey refuses to let go so he is trapped.
In my mind this goes along with what I have been thinking a lot about lately- coping skills. Specifically- unhealthy coping skills.
Coping is expending conscious effort to solve personal and interpersonal problems, and seeking to master, minimize or tolerate stress and conflict.
In ‘Christan-ese’ we call unhealthy coping ‘besetting sins’. You know- that thing you ‘lay down’ a gazillion times but keep going back to when under stress?
It is the source of every sort of addiction. It ‘delivered’ you from your negative emotions of feelings or made you feel wonderful a few times and now you keep going back for more and more to your own detriment.
It stems from a lack of trust in God that we all face at times. When the ‘rubber meet the road’ where are we going to turn?
You might take it even further an label that thing (or things) in your life as idol(s).
It fits with the monkey trap illustration because you won’t let go (darn human nature) even when that thing not only isn’t helping but is keeping you trapped from moving forward.
“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13
Essentially life will overwhelm us at times. It’s those times where we will either ‘cope’ with besetting sin type behavior or seek God and find Him strong on our behalf.
“Those who cling to vain idols leave behind the gracious love that could have been theirs.” Jonah 2:8
When we look to idols or unhealthy coping mechanisms we lose out on so very much. Scripture shows again and again how God loves using hopeless, stressful situations to come through miraculously for those who love him.
Jehoshaphat wasn’t a perfect king but he did one thing very right. 2 Chronicles 20 details him facing overwhelming enemy opposition. “In mounting fear, Jehoshaphat devoted himself to seek the LORD. He proclaimed a period of fasting throughout all of the territory of Judah…” He exclaimed to God, “Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
God did answer them and they went into battle literally singing God’s praises. God caused this massive army to turn on itself and by the time they got there the entire army had been destroyed. All that was left to do was to collect the war plunder.
It is a powerful illustration of how God will move on our behalf when we put our trust in Him. God hates the sin in our life because it keeps us trapped in it’s pit and keeps us from the awesome deliverance God wants for us.
I’ll be really honest and be the first to admit that even though I have seen God work powerfully I still find myself reaching for that fruit in the trap, you know? This is definitely a process. We are all human and we all face our own struggles, problems, weaknesses, etc. We need to remind ourselves of how awesome and big and good God is. He created all of this out of nothing. His presence fills the entire universe. He wins in the end. It was never even up for grabs. He loves us and as long as we are (even shakingly) putting our trust in him, he is there, helping us. “The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9
This is really wonderful news because if you are a believer in Jesus Christ you never face anything alone. Let’s say ‘no’ to (far) lesser things and ‘yes’ to God’s plan.