In Response to Terror
Again one in human form touched me and strengthened me. He said, “Do not fear, greatly beloved, you are safe. Be strong and courageous!” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”~Daniel 10: 18-19
In times like these, aren't these the words we long to hear? Don't we long to hear them with authority, and power, and a loving promise for all of our loved ones' safety? Too many dying in random acts to create terror. Too many natural disasters, too. Too many things we can't control. And too many selling us fear instead of hope.
And yet we are told so often in the Bible to not be afraid. From angels to Jesus himself, and Daniel's "One in human form," God's people are told to not fear the power of the world--even the power that can do them harm.
Wow. How? How do we actually live without fear when there's the sneaking and haunting feeling around that everything's really fragile, that safety's a chancy thing, and that no one is really in charge?
A wise young Palestinian friend once taught me that on this side of heaven, the trick is to be more afraid of losing your dignity than your freedom. If you can do that, even a little bit, then your fear of worldly power or rage or violence can quiet down. You can keep your head while everyone around you might be losing theirs. Because, you see, our dignity is from a power far greater than whatever pretends to control us. It's from the very power that made us. And so if you're more afraid of losing God than losing life, then maybe life will stay worth living no matter what--because God made life, and because in God there is nothing to fear.
It's not magic. But it can still come. You can feel a little bit of strength inside you, like Daniel did when facing lions, like Jesus did when facing Pilot, like you and I can when facing enemies we'll never understand--strangely close or far away. We can respond out of reason and not panic, love and not terror. It's all by God.