I will never forget the fear.
Our family was in Kenya and we were in the busy city center, purchasing some items for a broken water pump for one of the homes supported by Mercy House.
It was noon and we had just stepped into a small hardware store the size of large walk-in closet.
My husband asked about a specific part and the man behind the metal bars left to see if it was in stock.
I stood waiting with my three kids. Everything about the moment was both foreign and familiar.
Suddenly, there was a loud noise behind us and I turned to see a man with a turban on his head pulling the heavy rolling door closed. He locked it as another man pulled down the shades.
We are trapped.
I shuddered at my first thought and reached to pull my kids towards me until we were all touching. My hands shook and my heart pounded. I looked at my uncertain husband.
We were afraid.
And then the men rolled mats on the floor and knelt down. I sighed in relief as I checked my watch and heard the familiar sound of Muslim prayers filling the city. It was their prayer time and they were temporarily closing the store. My fear was unfounded. It was real, but it was wrong.
I reassured my kids, “Do not be afraid.”
This is what I whisper to my little one in the middle of the night when dark shadows dance on the wall.
It’s what I tell my teen on a bumpy flight across the ocean.
It’s what I tell my son when he faces a new situation.
It’s what I tell my husband when the future is uncertain.
It’s what I tell myself over and over in these frightening days.
Because that’s what God tells me again and again in his Word.
These are scary times. We are sad for the world. We are raising our children in the age of terrorists. Places we love are being attacked and we wonder where it will strike next.
We rush to close our borders and deny refugees in an effort to protect what we can’t define. We summarize and stereotype and we are afraid.
I returned to Kenya weeks after a deadly terrorist attack much to the discouragement of others. I was careful and took precautions but I decided not to let fear dictate my path. While I was there, the Boston Marathon was bombed. I sat safe in a Nairobi apartment frantically searching to see if my running friends were safe.
God has our days numbered from the beginning of time and we cannot predict or prevent our death if it’s his will.
We cannot keep evil out. We cannot run fast enough or far enough. We can’t foretell where it will strike or who will open a door to it. One day there may be no more safe places…
And that’s why our only real choice is to trust the One who holds our lives. To believe the Sovereign God of the Universe can protect us from danger or show up in the blazing furnace and walk through it with us. He can even turn a murdering terrorist into a Paul the Apostle.
We are not called to be safe, we are simply promised that when we are in danger, God is right there with us. And there is no better place to be than in His hands.” Katie Davis
Courage isn’t the opposite of fear; it’s peace. And peace is a person and His name is Jesus and his perfect love casts out fear.
So, we take our precautions, but we don’t let fear control our choices. We whisper encouragement to our kids. We trust the One we cannot see.
And we fear not.