It’s late afternoon when I think I’ve found help. I spot a cluster of berry bushes and hurry to strip the fruit, to suck the sweet juices from the skins. But just as I’m holding them to my lips, I get a hard look at them. What I thought were blueberries have a slightly different shape, and when I break one open the insides are blood red. I don’t recognize these berries, perhaps they are edible, but I’m guessing this is some evil trick on the part of the Gamemakers. Even the plant instructor in the Training Center made a point of telling us to avoid berries unless you were 100 percent sure they weren’t toxic. Something I already knew, but I’m so thirsty it takes her reminder to give me the strength to fling them away.
My father’s voice comes back to me. “Not these, Katniss. Never these. They’re nightlock. You’ll be dead before they reach your stomach.”
Katniss is alone in the woods. She’s famished. Suddenly she sees something tasty, something that looks like blueberries. It would be so tempting to just jump right in and eat. It would be tempting to see them as an answer to prayer. Surely they wouldn’t be there if they weren’t for her good. At least, that’s how we often think when we are in similar circumstances. Katniss, however, was protected by the stark realization that she was in a fight for her life and that the game makers were not above doing things to try to trick her and kill her. That realization gave her pause, and upon closer examination she found that the berries were lethal.
The truth is that we are in a fight for our lives as well. We have an enemy who isn’t above doing things to try to trick and kill us either. The hard thing, though, is for us to really grasp this fact. Since our battle isn’t against flesh and blood it’s a little harder to view as a reality.
When Katniss found the berries she had to slow down and think about it. She had to remember back to what her father and the plant instructor had taught her about berries to judge if these were safe or not.
When we are faced with some new temptation we need to do the same. We need to slow down before we act. Proverbs 14:12 tells us that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Those berries seemed right to Katniss at first, and to Peeta, and to Foxface. Only Katniss had the wisdom to carefully evaluate the berries against the wisdom of the plant instructor and her father.
There is a way that seems right to us, but it leads us to death. How are we to know which way to take? How are we to know which berries to eat and which are deadly? Katniss had two sources of help: an expert/authority and someone who loved her and had her best interest at heart. We have three main sources of help. Our primary means of help is the Bible. The Bible is essentially our survival guide for the Hunger Games of life that we live in. We also have the Holy Spirit who lives in us and is our counselor and helper who teaches us all things. Finally, we can turn to the wise counsel of other Christ followers. (Remember, Katniss trusted her father’s warnings about the nightlock just as Peeta trusted Katniss’.)
Katniss stayed alive because she didn’t just listen to her desires, but she instead submitted to the wisdom and authority of others. She had to let go of something she desperately desired (food) in order to get what mattered more—life. Even though, because she was starving, that food seemed necessary to obtaining life. She had to put her trust in something beyond her desires.
If you or I desire to live the life God designed for us here on earth, then we have to submit to the wisdom and authority of the Bible. We will often have to let go of things we desperately desire in order to get what truly matters more, the life of Christ in us. There will be times when that will mean giving up the very thing which seems to us at the time to be essential to the life we desire. It will mean that time and again we will have to trust in the Bible over our own desires. The good news is we have the Holy Spirit to help us do this.
1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. 3 Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.
Questions for Discussion:
- What are the “berries” being offered to you in your life right now? What thing or things are tempting you, promising you to satisfy some hunger in your life?
- Have you ever “eaten a berry,” so to speak, and later found out that it wasn’t the blueberry it appeared to be, but was nightlock in disguise? (In other words, have you ever been tempted to do something that appeared to be good or satisfying and safe, but later found out that it was dangerous and bad for you in some way?) Explain. If you can’t think of an example, can you think of an example you have seen in someone else’s life (don’t name names!)?
- Conversely, have you ever walked away from a tempting situation (maybe without even knowing why) and later been glad that you did?
- What does Isaiah 55 (at the end) promise to you in light of this discussion?
- Katniss had the plant instructor available to her during training. She could receive all of the plant instructor’s knowledge for her own, but she had to go spend time with the plant instructor. She had to make an opportunity to learn what the instructor had to teach her. The same applies to you and me. We have a survival guide available to us (called the Bible), but it does us no good if we don’t take time to read it and learn from it. We need to start with reading our Bible.
- The book of Proverbs in particular is a great place to start for some practical wisdom and warnings about some “berries” that are better off avoided. There are 31 chapters, so you might challenge yourself to read a chapter a day for a month. You might also find it useful to mark verses with a symbol—a $ for verses about money, a heart for verses about love, etc.
- Make a list of the people you turn to for advice and think carefully about where they got their information. Who you choose to turn to for advice can be the difference between life and death. Peeta trusted Katniss’ knowledge of the berries because he knew she had learned from the plant instructor. Foxface trusted Peeta’s knowledge, and it cost her her life because Peeta didn’t actually know much about berries. Do your counselors turn to the survival guide (the Bible) or their own “wisdom” for their own choices and their advice to you? The difference can literally mean life or death for you.
-By Stacey Tuttle-
Click here to see all the Hunger Games inspired Devotions.
Click here to see a compilation of quotes from the Hunger Games.