September 19, 2001

Our Lives Have Changed, But God Has Not

Home School Legal Defense Association's staff had just finished our regular prayer meeting last Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time when we started receiving news about the terrible tragedy unfolding in New York, then in Washington DC, a mere 50 miles from our office.

At 10:30 a.m., I, together with Patrick Henry College President Mike Farris, decided that we needed to go to prayer. We called all HSLDA staff and PHC students and staff together in our dining hall. Gathering in small groups, we asked for God's help in time of need. I was so impressed with the fervent prayers of our staff, the PHC staff, and especially the students. One of our new co-laborers, Tom Washburne, commented to me that the students' prayers reflected mature, spiritual upbringing. It was a tremendous blessing to be able to come together at that moment to encourage one another and to pray.

A wide range of emotions is aroused by a tragedy like this, including sorrow and anger. Because of the extreme hatred expressed toward America by the perpetrators of the attack, and the virtual certainty of future serious assaults against our people, one of the strongest emotions people are experiencing is fear. Many people are indicating that they will never fly again. Some people believe that the crashed planes might have had deadly chemicals that cannot yet be detected.

America will never be the same, and we as individual citizens will never be the same because of this attack. Life as we have known it is going to change, and we will have to make adjustments to our daily routines, especially those of us who travel.

The Bible speaks about two kinds of fear. It tells us to fear God—as our Creator and the sole sustainer of our lives, He alone is worthy of our fear, awe, respect, and devotion. But the Word of God speaks to us very clearly about controlling, incapacitating fear, identifying it as sin. Obviously, we need to have a healthy respect for danger—a speeding truck, a hot stove, a tornado—and we need to act wisely to protect our loved ones. But if worry and anxiety begin to overtake our lives, then we must examine our fears in the light of God's Word.

Philippians 4:6 says that we are to be anxious for nothing. The synonym for anxious is cares—as in the "cares of the world." Job 3:25 implies that fear invites assault—Job admitted that what he had feared had come upon him. II Timothy 1:7 makes it clear that fear is not from God, but rather love, power, and a sound mind. I John 4:18 tells us that fear is a torment.

But in a situation like we found ourselves facing on Tuesday, we are all given to fear. Some of us more than others. So how do we overcome fear?

Our answer is God.

Psalm 46:1-3 says: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling."

When we fear, we must go to our Heavenly Father and cry out, "Abba Father" (Daddy!), and He will give us help to overcome our fear.

Oswald Chambers, a giant of the Christian faith, tells us in My Utmost for His Highest that fear and worry spring from a determination to get our own way. Humbling, but true! We don't want to die when we fly. We're not ready yet. Chambers says: "Our Lord never worried and He was never anxious, because He was not out to realize His own ideas; He was out to realize God's ideas. Fretting is wicked if you are a child of God."

When we are fearful and when we worry, we have determined that our circumstances are too much for God. Again, quoting from Chambers: "Put all supposing on one side, and dwell in the shadow of the Almighty. Deliberately tell God that you will not fret about that thing. All our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God."

A desire to please God and to avoid the harmful physical effects of fear on our bodies—the temple of the Holy Spirit—should motivate us to confront our fears. Fear is a sin, and the first hurdle to gaining victory is to confess it as sin. Then with faith in God we can walk confidently into our circumstance. Faith in God is the antidote to sin.

Our lives will never be the same. We are living in very uncertain times with a real and present danger. The good news is that if God is our Heavenly Father, He is our protector. We can take comfort in the words of Isaiah the prophet to the children of Israel. If you are a child of God, these words apply to you today and give hope for the future.

"Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:1)

May God protect your family and increase your faith,

Mike Smith