I love sharks. I find them fascinating and beautiful. So Shark Week is an exciting time. But it occurs to me that there are (at least) several lessons that sharks have to teach that you won’t find on Shark Week.
- Inexplicable peace: I know what you’re saying—“What?! Don’t sharks usually bring anything but peace?” You would think so. But I can tell you from my experience that one of the greatest senses of peace I’ve ever felt was lying on my back on the ocean floor, looking up at a feeding frenzy of sharks. It was both surreal and serene. And now and then, I’d reach my hand up to touch the belly of a shark that was passing over me. It was so awesome. It reminds me of Phillipians 4:7—“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Should I have felt such ease amid 15-20 sharks? Of course not. That’s why it was inexplicable. That’s why it was beyond all comprehension. And that’s the same kind of peace that God offers to you and me.
- Healthy fear: Proverbs 9:10a says that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” That idea has often bothered me. God is the consummate loving Father. If I trust Him, then what have I to fear? And yet, in several scriptures, the Bible suggests that we should fear the Lord (which is not to be confused with fearing our circumstances, because we certainly are not instructed to do that). But let me—or, the sharks actually—give you a little illustration that might shed some light on what healthy fear might look like. On the same SCUBA trip I just described, the inexplicable peace was very suddenly shattered when our boat’s captain was bitten by a shark! He would later argue that the whole thing was his own fault. He was being careless with a crate of fish while trying to set up a photo opportunity for another diver. He had become so familiar with sharks over the years, so comfortable with them, that he forgot briefly how powerful they are. It seems like we can do the same with God. We take His benevolence for granted, and forget to revere Him for who He is.
- God’s Sovereignty: On October 31, 2003, Bethany Hamilton was attacked by a shark while surfing. If you’re familiar with her story, you’ll recall that she lost an arm in the attack. And since then, she has been speaking and writing and traveling. And she’s had TONS of amazing opportunities to share her testimony with others. I can’t imagine that she would have been anywhere near as powerful a witness for God if she hadn’t gone through what she did. Romans 8:28 tells us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Bethany is living proof of that.
- Perseverance: James 1:2-4 instructs us to “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Remember Bethany, and how I said she’s been speaking, writing, and traveling over the last decade? Well, she’s also been SURFING! I don’t know if you’ve tried surfing before, but I have and I couldn’t do it. Not with two arms. So the idea of surfing with one arm (and professionally, at that) blows me away. And it wasn’t easy for her to get back to that point. But she persevered. And now she is a witness, a role model, and a hero of the faith.
Yep, I’ve learned a lot from sharks over the years. Now I hope you can say that you have, too. Happy Shark Week, everyone!