It feels like media is permeated with news about terror attacks. It seems to happen more frequently and unpredictably than ever. Trains, shopping malls, cafes, markets, places that are so close to home, are targets for shooters and suicide bombers.
Reading the headlines, I am often shocked, saddened, and frightened. And, while my heart feels compassion for those who have lost their loved ones, thoughts of worry and fear bring unrest. Will my loved ones or I myself become the next victim on a seemingly normal day?
I am reminded that the intention of these terrorists is to achieve whatever aims they have by spreading fear and terror. Giving in to fear means going along with their plans. But what are my reasons not to be afraid? I need to see what God’s Word says about this.
Searching through the Bible, I read many powerful verses containing promises and comfort. But one particular verse that I come across really strikes me.
Jesus has solved it
“And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do … The very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:4-7.
Jesus’ very own words from 2000 years ago penetrate time and space, and give me an answer just when I need it. He was hated, rejected, threatened and persecuted during His time on earth. In the midst of that, He knew that God had a plan for Him and for us who would follow Him.
It is as if He knew how easily I forget, and need to be reminded. For the sake of our redemption, He put on the same body of sin and was tempted as we are. But He has personally suffered, overcome sin, set an example and opened a way back to our heavenly Father. Therefore, Jesus knew for sure that those who believe in Him can follow His example, and share eternity with Him. He comforted us: death is nothing we should be afraid of. He had already thought of my worries, and He gave me a solution.
“The very hairs of your head are all numbered …” Jesus must have experienced this again and again. The world around Him was utterly unpredictable. On a good day the crowd worshipped Him as the Son of God. But soon enough the same crowd was stirred up to hate Him so much that they wanted Him crucified. Still, He trusted God, learned to deny His own will and obey God.
Jesus became completely dependent on God, instead of His own strength and understanding. He learned that no one could harm Him unless God allowed it. God was His Father who truly cared for Him in all situations of life. Obedience also led Him to a deep peace, fully confident that God was in control! Now He is raised up, seated at the right hand of God, and He intercedes for us. (Romans 8:34). He prays that I can also trust in God, and receive the same unshakable peace and the same hope for eternal life.
I think about another man who also faced difficult times with an unwavering faith. The apostle Paul was a man who counted everything as loss to lay hold of the same life of Christ.
Regardless of tribulation, distress, persecution or sword, he always found opportunities to “present [his body] as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.” Romans 12:1. He remained in love, and continued to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things and endure all things. (1 Corinthians 13)
There must have been temptations to thoughts of worry, fear, discouragement and bitterness too. He was hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed. Instead he saw these situations as opportunities to gain eternal life and, rather than give in, he denied himself and overcame. He wrote, “for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:17.
Instead of being so occupied with the thought that “these bad things could happen to me,” should I not rejoice in the fact that I can gain something eternal in every situation I face? I can overcome unbelief, discouragement, worry, and continue to remain in love and hope regardless. This is how I can gain the virtues of Christ, which are the eternal weight of glory that God has prepared for me.
God is in control
Meanwhile, the world seems dark. Words like “threats,” “terrorism,” and “killing” continue to appear in headlines on a regular basis. People are dying and suffering. I know no words can truly describe the shock and pain that the victims and their family are going through. As I use God’s Word to strengthen my own faith, I also sincerely pray for them.
Jesus has warned us about these terrible times we are facing. “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom,” which is only “the beginning of sorrows.” Lawlessness will abound before Christ returns. (Matthew 24:6-14)
Many things that happen now go beyond my understanding. Yet, God promised that all sorrow and all evil in this world will come to an end. Jesus will come back to destroy all wickedness, and His Kingdom of peace will never end. (Isaiah 9:7) As for those who bring destruction and evil to this world, God had made their fate clear. “The way of the ungodly shall perish.” Psalm 1:6. The statement is short but definite.
While many are fighting against terrorism in their own way, I can be one of those who stands against fear in my own life. The Bible does not guarantee that I nor the ones I love will never be affected by terrorism, or any unpredictable crisis in life. But it does guarantee that I can lay hold of my calling to follow Christ, regardless of how the world is changing or whatever happens to me.
With God by my side, I will never be one that gives into fear, hatred, suspicion or unkindness which will only bring more uncertainty or destruction into this world.