After listening to news reports over the last few years, we probably all agree that these are difficult — no, frightening — times. I can recall as a kid hearing senior saints speak of “perilous times.” I didn’t understand it then, but that expression looms large now against the backdrop of the headlines we read all too often.
The Sept. 11 terror attacks were more sobering than any other attacks in recent history. The images of devastation on that dreadful day are forever etched in our minds. Since that time, there have been multiple attacks in America with terrorists groups proudly claiming responsibility.
It is becoming evident that these assaults on American liberties are gaining traction as lawmakers and citizens are more divided about how to address diversity and immigration. All of these attempts are designed to interject fear into our society and eat away at our sense of freedom and security so that we would never see life in America the same.
So how do we manage our fears in times like these? How do we overcome the impulse to look upon everyone who doesn’t look like us with suspicion? How do we continue to enjoy life without anxiety or without making major lifestyle changes due to fear of terror?
These are questions that every citizen in America must settle in their minds. In response, there are several strategies believers can apply in order to have peace of mind in these “perilous times.”
First, we must remember that living in fear is not God’s plan for us. According to 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” I firmly believe if he didn’t give us fear, he must not want us to have it.
Also, when fear comes — and it will — we must make a decision about how to handle it. We can follow David’s decision in Psalm 56:3: “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.”
Finally, we must remember we’re not alone. Psalm 23, reminds us: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.” As believers, we find comfort in knowing that we are never alone in times like these.
Some folks believe that dependency on Jesus Christ is a bit shallow. If that’s true, then what are the alternatives? Obviously, the government has no answer. Military intervention has minimal impact because today’s warfare has taken on new dimensions. How about purchasing more assault weapons or people making their own bombs? Sounds like a suggestion to fight terror with terror, and we all know how that would impact on society.
No, our best (perhaps only) recourse is to stabilize — to anchor the soul. That’s what is done as the spirit of Christ renews us day by day. Hymn writer Edward Mote encapsulates the inner workings of the Holy Spirit in difficult times.
“His oath, his covenant, his blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.”
The Rev. Gail T. Smith is pastor of the Universal Light Christian Center in Macon.