Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

When Terror Strikes

~~Last week, I watched in horror as terror unfolded in Paris, France. Bombings. Hostages. Shootings. Innocent people targeted. My heart broke for the people of Paris. For lives lost. For lives shattered, forever changed.

As I watched the non-stop news coverage, I began to wonder what kind of world my kids will inherit from us. What dangers are lurking behind every corner? Will they be forced to live in seclusion for their own safety? Will they fear for their lives every time they are on the street? Will they be targeted simply because they choose Christ?

It’s almost more than a mama’s heart can handle. Watching the news on a regular basis makes me fearful for my kids. Gone are the days of solid Christian morals, where seeking to follow Christ is the accepted norm.

Instead, we watch as terrorists invade every aspect of our lives. Christians targeted on college campuses. Citizens struck at a soccer game and a concert. Shootings in the middle of a church service. We even had a beheading last year right here in Oklahoma as a woman simply went about doing her job.

How do we deal with the fear? How do we teach our children to live boldly in an increasingly dangerous world? How do we live in light of the terror that surrounds us? How do we shine our lights for Christ when we know that we could easily be targeted for our faith?

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the dangers and immorality in this world. It’s easy to wonder if God really sees us, understands our plight. It can be confusing to sort through the myriad of emotions, to know where we should stand on certain issues. Do we lean toward compassion or do we choose discernment? Both are present in scriptures. Both are necessary.

I don’t know all the answers. I’m not sure I know any answers.

Except one: Jesus.

As I read scriptures, I can trace the same type of human depravity back to the beginning of time. Murder began with the second generation, when Cain attacked and killed his brother because of jealousy (Genesis 4). Fast forward a few generations until God looked down and regretted that he had made man (Genesis 6). That’s when he wiped out the inhabitants of the earth with a great flood.

Or think about the story of the Levite who was traveling through Gibeah. He stayed the night, accepting the hospitality of a Benjamite. However, the men of the town came wanting to have sex with the Levite man. Instead, the men sent the Levite’s concubine out to them, allowing them to rape her all night long. They found her on the doorstep the next morning, dead (Judges 19). That story has always haunted me.

But there’s always someone, someone whose heart is pure. Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for over 300 years before God simply took him home (Genesis 5). Noah was found righteous, and he and his family were spared from the flood (Genesis 6). Lot was pulled from Sodom and Gomorrah and spared because of Abraham’s prayers (Genesis 19).

We could go on and on about both the depravity of man, the evil that has existed in the human heart since time began. Nothing. Has. Changed.

We could also go on and on about the righteous ones, those who stood out from the crowd because they refused to be corrupted by the world. We could talk about the heroes of the faith, those who made it their lives’ mission to walk as closely to God as possible. We could talk about those giants whose faith we cling to, those who give us the strength to keep moving forward in dark times. Nothing. Has. Changed.

There’s still incredible evil in this world. And there are still heroes of the faith. While ISIS prowls around looking for lives to devour, God is raising up an army of believers with faith that shines bright. While terror seems to be the constant news of the day, Christians around the world are standing strong in their faith, determined to let their lights shine in the midst of the darkness.

So, how do we respond in light of the terror all around us? How do we live our lives when it feels as if the world is caving in on us?

We must trust that God is our salvation, our fortress, watching over and protecting us. We must trust that he sees and knows the truth about this world, about our hearts. We must trust that he has the power to protect us, to rescue us from these very real troubles. We must remain confident that he is able, he is greater than this world.

We must cry out to him for wisdom, discernment, direction. We must seek to know him deeply, intimately. We must strive to follow him, every step, every day. We must wait patiently, expectantly, for him to rescue us. We must cling to every word, every promise, he has made. We must be brave and courageous, knowing that he has overcome the world.

The darker this world gets, the brighter our light shines. Hang on to God, my friends. He is our hope.

The LORD is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.

The one thing I ask of the LORD—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the LORD with music.

Teach me how to live, O LORD. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me. Do not let me fall into their hands. For they accuse me of things I’ve never done; with every breath they threaten me with violence. Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.

Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. Psalm 27:1-6, 11-14 (NLT)

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