How to find a safe place in an age of Terrorism

Some time ago I called a meeting so that people could get together and just pray. Among others three people came who were unknown to me. I approached them and asked what had prompted them to come. They shared openly, “We’re scared by the terrorist acts happening around the world. We’re looking for answers.” Their urgency and transparency deeply affected me.

Later, I asked myself: How many other people are fighting fear in these uncertain days? This chance meeting took place shortly before the Paris terror attack where ordinary young people at a concert, and others dining at a restaurant were targeted and murdered. The French noted the targets were anybody and everybody. Since the Paris massacre we’ve also seen 32 killed and 300 wounded by terrorist bombs in Brussels, Belgium. And not long ago ISIS has expressly announced that Canada is on their hit list.
So how do people deal with such horrific acts? And how does a person find a “safe place?

One interesting response is simply a kind of defiance. The odds of my being a victim are in fact very small so we might say, “I won’t let the terrorists win—I will live my life exactly as before.” It’s kind of like, “To hell with you, you can’t scare me.” Admirable as this may be, it certainly will not work for everyone. And of course every new terror attack makes it increasingly difficult to live like this.

I suspect the average Canadian deals with the threat by, get this—deliberately thinking of other things. Many of us probably reason that we can’t do anything about it so there’s no point in worrying about it—we might as well get on with living our lives. In some ways there’s wisdom in this approach. Of course it’s not a solution that targeted people in the Middle East like Christians or Yazidi’s can afford to adopt.

Now I don’t have a worldwide solution to stop the terrorist threat. But as a Christian I certainly do have a solution to living above the fear. Yes, it’s a spiritual solution, but it is very real.
In a passage on persecution the Bible says, “Do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28). Immediately following this command to “fear not”, we are told why we should not allow fear to control us. The first reason is simply this—we are to have a greater fear (reverence, awe, esteem) of God himself who has ultimate control over both body and soul. Ironically we are called to overcome fear of the lesser threat of dying by making sure we take care of the greater threat—we must make sure we do not die in an unprepared state.

Jesus then gives a second reason why we should not be fearful. He says that even a small sparrow cannot fall to the ground apart from God’s will. And then he says, “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. In essence Jesus is saying, God loves you, he cares for you, he watches over you, and nothing will happen to you outside his will. No matter what comes into your life, even death itself—it does not mean he has ceased to love and care for you.

Christians have always found freedom from fear in their lived out experience of God’s love. In a related text the apostle Paul says in Romans 8:38-39: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come … shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The Bible teaches that Christ-followers need not fear death of any sort. And why does it make such an astounding claim? Because God promises that whoever believes and follows his Son—in the life that’s coming will spend eternity in the presence of Father and Son.

In this age of terrorism where innocents are murdered in so many parts of the world—is it really possible to live without fear? I cannot speak for unbelievers. But as one follower of Christ I can say, yes. Thank God, yes, “absolutely yes.”

Published in www.thefountainpen.com

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