Recently, I was listening to a news report which included a reaction from people in South Africa about the heinous attack in San Berrnardino. It’s important to know that South Africans have grown accustomed to dangerous environments and frequent stories of gun violence, but this story from California shocked them. Their assumption was that places in the United States were more secure and isolated from the violent crimes that often prevail in places like Cape Town. What we’ve been shown in the past month, from Paris to California, is that perhaps our world is not as safe as we thought it was.
Christians, I believe, have three avenues of response when we feel that our safety has been threatened and new fears enter our minds. Our first option is to feed our fear. We could easily let these murderous attacks consume our minds to such a degree that we become suspicious and anxious of any new person or an ordinary setting. The Lord asks us to give the first option to him by casting all anxieties upon him, because He cares for His people (1 Peter 5:7).
Our second option is to reinforce our man-made forms of security. We could get extra insurance, expensive security systems, build a bunker, purchase a hand-gun, take self-defense classes, scan a restaurant before we enter it…this list could go on for a long time. This was the option that the nation of Israel typically chose. When they would lose a battle or face a threatening enemy, they would try to reinforce their human strength so defeat would appear less probably next time. The Lord spoke into this and said, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are strong” (Isaiah 31:1a). The parallels into our day are striking! The Lord continued to dismiss this as a viable option for his people because “you do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord” (Isaiah 31:1b).
The third option, in the midst of threats of violence and a rising tide of fear, is to lean into the provision of the Lord. “Have you not know? Have you not heart? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary… He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:28,29,31a). As Jesus’ disciples were becoming afraid by the political pressure against them, Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do” (Luke 12:4). Jesus continued to make this point - there is only one that we should tremble before, it is the Lord! His authority is the only one which reaches into eternity.
If you are walking in paths of fear this week, I invite you to consider asking the Lord to deepen your dependency on Him. Regardless if our world become more peaceful or more hostile, there is one place which you can find absolutely security – the arms of the one who has already defeated death, Jesus Christ the Lord.