Jack Bauer, of Fox TV’s 24 fame, has an uncanny ability to bounce back. In this season of 24, we find a disillusioned and disenfranchised Bauer facing possible indictment for his past “unorthodox information extraction techniques.” Unexpectedly, Bauer finds himself being escorted from his Senate hearing interrogation into the inner workings of the FBI and reluctantly thrust back into the latest national security crisis. Jack is soon going head-to-head against terrorists who have breached the firewall of the nation’s computer infrastructure, threatening impending disaster for the air traffic control system, the energy grid, water systems and more.
Jack’s former agency, CTU (the fictional Counter Terrorism Unit), has been officially disbanded, but some of its core agents have set up a shadow operation outside normal government channels. They believe there are traitorous betrayers lurking at the highest levels of the FBI and White House. Rogue agents abound in this swirling plotline and cross and double-cross twists percolate under the surface. Who’s working on the inside to subvert the efforts to bring the terrorists down? And how will Jack respond in the midst of finding himself criticized and criminalized? Will he find the strength to draw on that will rekindle and sustain him as he steps back into the battle? The creators of 24 hope fans will stay tuned as the answers unfold and they reveal what this hero is really made, despite being discarded, devalued and defamed.
While Jack Bauer’s stressors and resilience are a fictional fabrication, we all know that sometimes life slams into us with brute force and we’re left spinning. So what about you? How do you react when troubles come crashing down into your life? When unfairness floods in? When friends disappoint or betray? When disillusionment descends into despair? What’s the source of your strength and courage then?
For followers of Jesus, God’s promises in His word are there to give us hope and courage. They assure us of His strength and power within us. Check out 2 Corinthians 4:7-9:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
God promises to use our human frailty, described here as “jars of clay,” to reveal His power and glory as He provides us with His strength and sufficiency. He gives us courage, hope and assurance as we walk with Him through difficult times. He promises in Deuteronomy 31:6 that He will never abandon us:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
And when we’re suffering unjustly, God tells us to lean into Him in faith and use the challenges we’re encountering to share about Him with others. 1 Peter 3:14-15 puts it this way:
But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…
When we hold fast to Him, God’s power and presence equip us to respond with courageous faith to overwhelming circumstances or painful times. And he encourages us to take it beyond simple endurance, challenging us to explain “the reason for the hope” we have to others.
So as 24’s season kicks into high gear, try using it as a springboard to talk with your friends about the uncertainties of life – the fears and unfairness we all face at times. Here are a few ideas to help you get the conversation moving in a spiritual direction:
- How often do you think about the threat of some sort of major terrorist attack? Is it a real fear or a distant concern for you personally?
- What do you do when you’re feeling anxious or fearful about something? Do you turn to friends? Family? God? Listen, then share about your personal relationship with God through Jesus.
- How do you respond when it feels like someone has discarded and devalued you? Or when you feel betrayed? Where do you turn for strength and comfort? Listen, then share how God is your rock and fortress, your shield and strength (Psalm 18:2), and how He has promised to never leave you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6).
When tough times strike, we can lean into God’s promise to provide us with His strength and courage. Share that Good News with your friends who need Jesus.