We all remember September 11. A “post 9/11 world” is the only world our kids know. No generation of American children has heard the phrase, “I just want to keep you safe” more than these kids.
Fear defies logic, it can be consuming. I know this because I lived a lot of my life being afraid. It wasn’t logical, I was safe in my home, but I was afraid to sleep alone as a child, afraid of the dark. As an adult, being alone in the house at night was terrifying. It wasn’t until I was 30 years old that I made a declaration - out loud in the name of Jesus - that I would no longer be afraid, and fear left me.
Listening to all this news can provoke anxiety in any heart. What do we do? Do we stay home and hunker down? Do we stop living in case we might - stop living? Do we say no to refugees because we fear that a terrorist might be among them?
ISIS wants us to be afraid. Evil thrives on chaos, on fear, on power over someone they feel is inferior and weaker than them.
But this is the Word of the Lord, friends. “Do Not Fear.” These words are spoken over 100 times in the Bible.* Here are some from Isaiah:
Isaiah 41:10 (NIV) So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:13 (NIV) For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
This is because God is on the throne. He is in control of what seems like a chaotic and broken world. We need not fear. Those who love Jesus have the assurance that they will be with Him in heaven. He is our strength, the Rock on which we stand. No threat, no terrorist attack can change that.
“I did not give you a spirit of fear, but of strength, of power, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)
The Parisians on the streets with their signs saying “We Are Not Afraid” were making a statement to those who would do them harm. They are joining together and that gives them courage. Even more freedom from fear, even more courage and bravery can come from Jesus.
My favorite hymn is “It Is Well.” Here is the story of its origins:
This hymn was written after traumatic events in Spafford's life. The first was the 1871 Great Chicago Fire, which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer and had invested significantly in property in the area of Chicago that was extensively damaged by the great fire). His business interests were further hit by the economic downturn of 1873, at which time he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville du Havre. In a late change of plan, he sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sea vessel, the Loch Earn, and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone …". Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.
Bliss called his tune Ville du Havre, from the name of the stricken vessel.
The Spaffords later had three more children. On February 11, 1880, their son, Horatio Goertner Spafford, died at the age of four, of scarlet fever. Their daughters were Bertha Hedges Spafford (born March 24, 1878) and Grace Spafford (born January 18, 1881). Their Presbyterian church regarded their tragedy as divine punishment. In response, the Spaffords formed their own Messianic sect, dubbed "the Overcomers" by American press. In 1881, the Spaffords, including baby Bertha and newborn Grace, set sail for Ottoman-Turkish Palestine. The Spaffords settled in Jerusalem and helped found a group called the American Colony. Colony members, later joined by Swedish Christians, engaged in philanthropic work among the people of Jerusalem regardless of their religious affiliation and without proselytizing motives—thereby gaining the trust of the local Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities. During and immediately after World War I, the American Colony played a critical role in supporting these communities through the great suffering and deprivations by running soup kitchens, hospitals, orphanages and other charitable ventures. The colony later became the subject of the Nobel prize-winning Jerusalem, by Swedish novelist Selma Lagerlöf.**
In spite of tragic events, this man could say it was well with his soul. And not only that, he allowed God to use his life to bring good to others. To love, give, and serve no matter what the cost.
Be not afraid, my friends, and let it be well with your soul. And then pray. Jesus has come so that we might “have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). If you haven’t given your life to Him, talk to him and ask Him to be Lord your life - confess your sins, ask Him for forgiveness, and let Him bring you new life through His saving power. He through His Holy Spirit can bring you the peace that you need, the freedom from fear, the confidence that you will live with Him in eternity. If the Lord is the stronghold of your life, of whom shall you be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
And then, let’s pray for ISIS. Let’s pray for the victims of these terrible acts. Let’s pray for peace. Pray for wisdom and what God is calling you to do, and how He would handle this refugee crisis.
I am praying that we all keep living and caring and giving, and that our nation would love as Jesus says to love, because “perfect love casts out fear.” (I John 4:18).
All Scripture was taken from www.biblegateway.com and is the New International Version