Impending doom seems to permeate our society. Past generations had no idea of the perils and plagues in other parts of the world. But we live in an information explosion. Nuclear threats terrify us. We even fear the weather forecast! But from an eternal perspective, enemies may touch the body, but they can never touch the soul.
“Dear friends, don’t be afraid of these who want to murder you. They can only kill the body; they have no power over your souls. But I’ll tell you whom to fear—fear God who has the power to kill and then cast into hell.
“What is the price of five sparrows? A couple of pennies? Not much more than that. Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And he knows the number of hairs on your head! Never fear, you are far more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows.” Luke 12:4-7 NLV
How do terrorist fighters plan to destroy their targets, bringing nations to their knees? By fear-mongering!
Perhaps current events don’t affect you, but we all struggle with fear. Are you afraid to raise your children in this uncertain world? Are you afraid of losing your job, or losing your marriage? Are you fearful of losing someone or losing your retirement? Are you fearful of economic down-turns, or losing your retirement? Do you stuggle with your declining health?
Fear paralyzes us.
We hide in the safety of the shadows instead of stepping out in faith.
My husband Roger was agoraphobic as a teen (afraid to leave the safety of his home). Every time he was required to attend a social gathering, he was petrified. An anxiety disorder crippled his health and his high school years. His serious medical issues could have given him the excuse to remain safe and secure in his comfort zone. But God’s called him and Roger answered. Every day, Roger had to face his fears and make the choice to take risks. Fifty-two countries and three-thousand sermons later, God blessed his obedience.
My Christian brother Asim, a missionary in the Middle East, leaves his home every day knowing ISIL militants beheaded believers nearby, burned homes of beloved friends and brutally murdered poverty-stricken parents in the ghettos. Instead of cowering in fear, he created an orphanage for abandoned children and developed 26 house churches. Asim and his team bravely continue sharing Christ in this war-torn country. Miracles defy obstacles.
Nero’s lions ripped Christians to pieces. The megalomaniac crucified them and dipped them in pitch to light his gardens at night. When the persecuted church was dispersed in the Book of Acts, the gospel spread like wildfire to surrounding nations. God emboldened His saints as they migrated beyond their borders.
Fear breeds suspicion and prejudice.
Racial profiling is already an issue in our country, but when we look at those around us with skepticism and aloofness, we miss any opportunity to connect with love and acceptance. The opportunity to share the Good News of Christ with others is missed.
Guerrilla warfare is not new to the world, but most terrorists hide in plain sight. If we constantly look over our shoulders, terrorists have won.
My husband and I prepared to preach a sermon from Job entitled “When Fears Come True.” The day before, I received a death threat with a graphic message of how the attacker would rape me. I had a choice. Our church staff told me to stay home. But God told me to boldly speak the message He had given me, and He would be my Protector. My husband still made me wear a bullet-proof vest, but I never felt God’s peace and power more. I don’t feel afraid when I look into the hungry eyes of those who listen. My compassion helps me love and minister to them.
Fear steals our joy.
If we refuse to live our day-to-day lives, terrorists have won. Fear can only be replaced by faith.
One of my British pastor-friends lived in London during World War II. He recalled being a four-year-old boy, shoved into a subway cubby hole as air raid horns blared above him. Terrifying nightmares of being buried alive haunted his childhood. Only after he had an encounter with Jesus did He realize that God was bigger than any foe.
Jesus said in John 10:10, “The Thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. But I have come to give you life abundantly.” NIV
When do we experience abundant life? In our present. Satan steals our abundant life when we allow guilt and pain from the past to cloud our present. He robs today’s peace by causing us to fret and panic about the future.
My oldest daughter Brianna has fought a crippling auto-immune disease all of her life. Every day she wakes up with migraines, wondering if she will be able to keep down food. Her treatments are agonizing, and the slightest cold germ can spiral her fragile body into pneumonia.
But she does not allow her disease to define or destroy her. She wakes up every morning, praising God. She tirelessly works to raise money for Christian missionaries around the world….I watched her lead worship with her husband. She sang with a radiant countenance, hands uplifted to the heavens.
I don’t know if I could be so brave.
When Brie was seven, we chose a special psalm together: Psalm 91. We sat in the middle of her fluffy pink bedspread and whispered David’s words:
“If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your dwelling. For He orders his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone. “
Fear, dread, horror, fright, alarm, panic-all paint portraits of Satan’s terrifying schemes.
Don’t let Satan win. He is a defeated foe. God is our Protector.