Four months. It’s been just four months since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT and the nation is reeling once again in the wake of the senseless violence last week at the Boston Marathon. I think it’s left all of us wondering where in the world we can be safe? When will all this violence stop? How do we cope?
I have to admit, this time I just couldn’t watch. My heart sank when I first heard the news, I visited a couple of news websites and then I simply had to turn it off. I saw the terror. I saw the videos of the bombs exploding. I saw the pictures of the injured. And, I saw the face of sweet little Martin Richard, dead at the age of eight-years-old and felt my heart rip in two. After that, I turned off the news and clicked away from the websites.
Once again, families are left to grieve and lives are permanently altered. It doesn’t seem fair. And, while it’s pretty easy for us to see the horror that those families have to face, there is also an unseen tragedy that raises its ugly head every time something like this happens; it’s fear. With each senseless attack the fear level rises a bit for every American getting ready to attend an event, travel across the country, or send their child to school. For some that fear will be paralyzing.
It seems clear, to me at least, that the government cannot keep us safe. You just can’t regulate crazy. You can check for knives and bombs at the airport, you can regulate guns, and you can search every bag on every person at every ball game, concert, and PTA meeting, but you can’t stop someone intent on causing bodily harm to others.
So the question is what do we do with the fear? Do we let it stop us from pursuing all the things we enjoy doing? Do we allow fear to keep us cowering in our homes to escape any possibility of danger? I don’t know about you but that’s not how I want to live my life. There are too many things I want to do, and that God has called me to do, to let fear keep me imprisoned.
I face each day with this truth – my days on this earth are already numbered. I’m not just saying this because I’m getting older. It’s true for every single one of us – young and old. We simply don’t know how many days our lifetime will hold. The Bible says “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” (Psalm 39:4-5)
Our time on this earth is temporary and as much as we’d like to protect our family and ourselves we are simply not in control. The best thing we can do is yield our lives to the One who holds the key to eternity and know that, despite what it may look like on the outside, He has our very best interest at heart.
Sunday morning there was a missionary that spoke at our church. He and his wife serve in a country that has no interest in Jesus or anything he might have to offer. In fact, they’d prefer that Christianity be wiped off of the earth and certainly out of their country. This missionary couple has been in some tough situations – beyond tough. And yet his words at the end of his talk are what hit me the most; “We’re heading back to this region soon and we don’t know what awaits us, possibly prison and maybe death, but we can’t wait to get back.” Wow!
You see, this man and his wife know that their hope does not rest in gun control, TSA agents, or a constant vigilance at schools and sporting events. Their hope lies in the strength of Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) That is what I believe, that is what these missionaries believe, and I pray that is what you believe. Without Jesus, this life would simply be too hard and too scary for me. But with him I can say with confidence, “The Lord is my light and my salvation – so why should I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)