Whether on the news or in the movies, we’re all familiar with the hostage situation. The tense face-off between a crazed gunman and a negotiator. A taut interchange, where every word, every nuance buckles under the weight of meaning. Where lives hang in the balance and your reactions dictate life and death.
In this situation, how would you cope? Would you stay silent? Follow orders and keep your head down? Or try to take charge? Negotiate, persuade?
This is what the SAS recommend in a hostage situation:
1. Never volunteer and always support a weaker member of the group. This will put you in a stronger position and empower the group.
2. Leave 20 seconds before you respond to anything and never respond with your first emotion.
3. Find humour in everything. Your captors will try to humiliate you and beat you down with whatever they can. If you can find humour in what they do, you can’t be beaten and your spirit will stay intact.
Hopefully, none of us will ever be in this situation. But everyday life brings with it less obvious dangers. Pressures – with family, money, time, health. Stressful challenges or experiences, that confront us with choices. To fight – or to flee? To retaliate or withdraw?
You’re already late, the printer’s jammed and the clients are starting to fidget. Your boss has a face like thunder and your chance for promotion is melting along with your brain.
It’s been a long day, you’re starving and you’re stuck in a tailback that shows no sign of clearing.
The casserole’s burning, the kids are screaming, Jonny’s split his knee open and a friend turns up on the doorstep needing to talk.
How do we respond to these things? And what helps us find meaning in what looks like madness?
Being a Christian means that we are equipped to face any and every circumstance and temptation. Easy words to say, I know. But they’re from the Bible and not Granny Scrivener, so they can also be trusted.
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Cor 10:13
Fighting temptation isn’t easy. Nor is it a case of peering heavenwards and shouting ‘Beam me up’. (I’ve tried this and so far, no joy). But something more amazing happens – Jesus comes down. He joins us in our trials. He understands because He ‘has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.’ (Hebrews 4:5).
There’s a time and a place for negotiation – but this isn’t it. Instead, we’re told to resist the enemy, by standing firm in our faith. Or to flee him, by running to Christ.
There’s a time and place for heroes – but this isn’t it either. You see, the real hero – and the ultimate negotiator – has already shown up. He’s already defeated the bad guys.
And when you’re standing next to Jackie Chan, your own ninja moves are just silly.