Trigger is a buzzword these days. I never knew it as anything but a part of a gun when I was growing up, but today the primary usage relates to something that is read, seen, or heard that leads to distress in a person, because it arouses “feelings or memories associated with a particular traumatic experience.”
That can lead to just about anything being a trigger to anyone, or to put it another way — everything is a trigger to somebody.
Is this something new in our 21st-century culture? Nope, sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s not. We just use different words to describe it.
People have always been bothered by things. Taking offense is as old as history itself. Remember Cain and Abel? Cain was ticked off because God looked with favor on his brother’s offering. He was so triggered by the event that he killed his brother! That’s one bad over-reaction.
Another example of the “nothing-new-under-the-sun” reality of triggers is also found in the Bible. It’s in the book of a prophet named Hosea. Listen to what he said:
The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.*
That’s right, the Word of God has been a trigger for people from the beginning of time. God’s own people, the Israelites, stumbled at his Word. Their minds were too enamored with the gods of the Egyptians and the idols of the nations that surrounded them. They chose to ignore the laws and prophets, and boy, did they fall.
The Apostle Paul wrote about Israel’s unbelief in his letter to the church in Rome, when he said,
“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”*
The ultimate stumbling stone, of course, is Jesus Christ. Yep, he’s been a major trigger for people for centuries. All you have to do is say “Jesus is Lord” to test a person’s stance. While some will say “amen,” others will scoff and take offense. God was happy to use what was to some an offense and foolishness to be the source of salvation to those who believed. Paul told the Corinthians,
but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.*
The Proverbs tell us we should never be happy when a person falls, because they are living a sad reality of life without hope. So, what do you do when a person rejects the truth of God’s Word?
- Remember that this is nothing knew. Don’t take offense on God’s behalf.
- Realize that there is a story behind the rejection.
- Don’t take their rejection at face value — ask questions to know why they don’t want to hear it.
- With gentleness and respect, be ready to give an understandable answer, to those who ask, for the hope that is in you.
- Leave the door open for God to continue to work on their heart, by having a good attitude, living with integrity and expressing joy in your own walk.
Are you walking or stumbling over God’s Word? May you and those you know who are struggling give ear to the One who says, “This is the way; walk in it.”* He’s the One who can make all paths straight and remove all triggers.
Grace and Peace
Hosea 14:9 (NIV).
Romans 9:33. (Also found in Peter’s letter of 1 Peter 2).
1 Corinthians 1:23-24.