I haven’t watched the ISIS beheading videos, and I don’t intend to.
I don’t need to be reminded to be afraid.
I do read articles about what’s going on in the Middle East, however, to stay informed, just not too many. How do I know when I’ve had enough? Easy. I feel my blood pressure rise and feel my focus narrow to the what-if’s, hope-not’s, and very-well-could-be’s. If I’m not careful, I will hunker down in that dark tunnel of vain imaginings indefinitely, rendering myself a living casualty.
No, I don’t need to be reminded to be afraid. I need to be reminded to stand firm (Ephesians 6:13-14). I need to be reminded to emerge from tunnels of my own making and press on.
Philippians 4:6-9 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
‘Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
As ambassadors for Christ, we have a job to do, a message of reconciliation to proclaim. We can’t let fear paralyze us. Yes, this world can be a scary place. Yes, evil is alive and well, but, more importantly, “the Lord is near” (Philippians 4:4).
When you feel yourself begin to panic, follow the instructions in the passage above. Tell God all about it, rest in the peace that He gives you, and then don’t let your guard down by filling your head with thoughts and images that send you right back into the same mental, emotional, and spiritual tailspin you were in before! For goodness sake, don’t give the enemy a foothold (Ephesians 4:27)!
Instead, make a conscious effort to focus on the true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (make an actual list if you need to) and keep going, surrounded by the peace that obeying God in this particular will bring you. Let’s take our cue from Stephen, the first Christian martyr, who, even as he died at the hands of those he had hoped to rescue, refused to give in to fear, but kept his eyes firmly fixed on Jesus and the promise of Heaven (Acts 7).
Contrary to what some might think, choosing to live confidently in the peace God gives, to be thankful for and enjoy His blessings, to share the Gospel openly, and to smile and laugh like someone who has been set free from sin and slavery forever is not sticking your head in the sand; it’s faith! It is victory over the enemy, and it can be yours.