“People around the world now complain about stressors everyday…but in reality there is no such thing as a stressor. Why not? Because nothing has the inherent power to provoke stress.” – Andrew J Bernstein – American Writer
To PROVOKE means to stimulate or give rise to (a reaction or emotion, typically a strong or unwelcome one [anger, or annoyance]) in someone. Our culture is full of provocateurs in the media, in sports, in politics, and even in the Church. We say, “Don’t poke the bear,” meaning don’t deliberately antagonize someone, especially someone more powerful. Provocation in the law is acton or speech held to be likely to cause physical retaliation. Once the bear has been poked, the antagonist is in true danger. In Medicine, provocation is testing to elicit a particular response or reflex. Have you ever been provoked? or provoked another?
Nobel Prize winning Indian/Trinidadian writer, V.S. Naipaul, author of “Half a Life,” wrote about colonialism, xenophobia (dislike or prejudice against people from other countries, immigration, and identity. Hesays, “Writers should provoke disagreement.”Those who write are sure to field dissenting views and alternative perspectives. It’s comes with the territory of choosing to be vulnerable, express a view, and put it out into the world. The hope of most creatives is not necessarily to sway everyone to their side, but to open intellectual, spiritual, or relational discourse—if not with others, within oneself. Good writing provokes us to ask questions that challenge our ways of thinking. How true is what I believe? Have I considered another interpretation?
Provoke is a word found throughout Scripture. Deuteronomy 32:16 states, “They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods; With abominations they provoked Him to anger.” There’s not a bigger bear you can poke than God. This kind of statement about Israel’s provocations runs throughout the Psalms and the Prophets. God’s reply in Jeremiah 7:19 is, “Butam I the one they are provoking? declares the LORD. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame? Something to consider…
Paul, in Colossians 3:21 writes, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” He reiterates this in Ephesians 6:4, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” It seems poking even baby bears can lead to disastrous long-term internal and relational consequences. Provocation can also be positive, Hebrews 10:23-24 says we are to hold fast to the profession of our faith and to “consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” Question is…what are you provoking?