How does the slowest shark in the world catch its food? Living in frigid, near-freezing waters, the Greenland shark swims at less than 1 mile an hour. It takes seven seconds for one full sweep of its tail to propel it forward.
Researchers, however, have found remains of seals in the sharks’ stomachs. Those findings have marine biologists wondering how one of the slowest fish in the sea can catch a fast-swimming seal.
In the past, some have suggested that the Greenland shark is actually a scavenger that eats the remains of dead animals. But recent findings indicate that the sharks are taking live seals.
Two theories have been suggested. One is that slow-moving sharks sneak up on seals that are sleeping in the water in frigid regions to avoid polar bears. Another theory is that the shark uses a powerful sucking action to pull in an unsuspecting seal that swims too close.
In an attempt to get answers, scientists are planning to use underwater cameras in hopes of catching “the slowest chase on record.”
While researchers look for answers, maybe the Greenland shark can help us think through a similar question.
If it seems like a slow-moving shark should be no threat to a fast-moving seal, doesn’t it also seem like a defeated predator like the devil should be no threat to those who, according to the Bible, are more than conquerors in Christ (Romans 8:37)? Doesn’t the apostle Paul also ask with rhetorical confidence, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 NKJV). In another letter, the apostle John declares, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4 KJV). Then there’s the apostle James who assures us that if we resist the devil he will run from us (James 4:7).
Yet, in spite of all these assurances, the Bible still warns us about the devil. It sounds like a wake-up call. But what is at stake when the apostle Peter urges his readers to remain awake, watchful, and vigilant to avoid what he calls being devoured by the devil (1 Peter 5:8)? Let’s take a closer look.
Peter’s warning may recall the night that he, James, and John fell asleep in the garden of Gethsemane even though Jesus repeatedly warned them that this was a time to pray and not to sleep.
This wasn’t their only wake-up call. Earlier that night at the Last Supper, Jesus had told His disciples that something terrible was about to happen, and that one of them would betray Him. At first, the disciples wondered among themselves who He was referring to. But that question apparently led to arguing about which of them would be greatest in the kingdom of God (Luke 22:14-30).
Peter seemed to consider himself in the running. Even after being warned by Jesus that Satan was stalking him, Peter assured his Lord that he was ready to go to prison or death for Him.
Looking back, it’s apparent that Peter was dreaming. His words of self-confidence were like the sound of a sleeping man snoring.
Within hours, all of the disciples had abandoned Jesus. While the others merely hid in fear, Peter, the boldest of them all, panicked when recognized by a servant girl of the high priest. Ambushed by his own fear and weakness of faith, he repeatedly denied that he ever knew the teacher from Nazareth (Luke 22:54-62).
Such memories must have lingered in Peter’s mind as he later wrote his letter urging followers of Christ to be clear-minded, wakeful, and vigilant in light of a real spiritual enemy. He’d learned the hard way that by the daydreams of self-assurance (Luke 22:33) or by the nightmares of sheer terror (Luke 22:54-62), we can be distracted from clear-minded trust in our God.
Peter also had seen all too clearly that even if our ultimate rescue is assured, and even if, in the end, He who is for us is greater than he who is against us, the devil can temporarily devour our sense of well-being in Christ (1 Peter 5:8-9).
Looking back, it seems apparent that God let Satan shake down Peter to wake him up—not only for his sake, but for ours (Luke 22:31).
In the providence of God, we can now learn from Peter’s loss. Through his stumbles we can be reminded that our greatest danger is not a devil we cannot see. Our biggest problem is that self-confidence, distraction, and prayerlessness shows our lack of spiritual consciousness.
That’s apparently why Peter goes on to urge his readers to watch out for one another in ways that show that they are acutely aware of how much God cares for all of us (1 Peter 5:1-8).
The result goes far beyond whether we become like sleeping seals to a Greenland shark. According to Peter, the humility and alertness we need to resist our enemy bring us to God and make us good for one another (1 Peter 5:1-10).
Father in heaven, thank You for using even our spiritual enemy to help us see how much we need You. Slowly it’s dawning on us that the tactics of our predator can be heard as Your wake-up call. —Mart DeHaan