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When Terror Hits Home and You’re Not There

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Last summer when America went crazy for chicken (or at least about it) as Dan Cathy proclaimed his belief in the Biblical definition of marriage, I read about it on facebook. I watched through the eyes of a foreigner as friends fought with words and took action both for and against the stand of Chick-fil-A.

I read in July about a man with a gun in a Colorado movie theater. And my heart broke for the fear of those nearby. For the horror of those affected. I watched from afar, an onlooker glad for the non-option of taking my kids to the movies last summer, living in this foreign-speaking land in which we only knew a few words.

In mid-December, when a shooter walked into an Oregon mall and started shooting, I was checking up on facebook and noticed my cousin’s status. She lives in Oregon. So I did a quick search and found news of a man in a Christmas-shopper-filled mall walking in and shooting three people, including himself.

Two days later I was sitting on my couch when I first learned a 20-year-old man had wreaked havoc at an elementary school in Connecticut, killing 27 people. Again, it was facebook that informed me of the horror.

I cried.

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When my kids saw me crying I realized the blessing of the built-in filter through which they could learn the news. No picture-filled newscasts. No background screaming and crying as news anchors interview parents or friends or teachers.

Then I read status after story after blog post and more about the fear such news evoked in my friends at home in the States. Afraid to send their kids to school. Not sure whether homeschooling might be an option.

Being 4284.8 miles away from home gives me a different, almost detached perspective on national tragedies.

I have to choose my news sources. Have to seek it out. Often I can’t find more than a few sources to choose from, so I read what I can find. Of course we get German news, but we understand little, so we mostly avoid it.

As such, I find myself in a unique position.

I see my friends react from inside the fray of the ever-so-close terror, and my heart reels  as I watch somewhat objectively from these thousands of miles away.

I understand the fear. I used to live inside it.

It’s the kind that holes you up, leaves you lifeless and shaking, pretending for your kids that everything is fine. Begging God to protect you, to protect them, from the evil that seems to be exponentially multiplying, getting closer by the day. Lurking just behind the gun laws and the new alert systems and the border patrols.

I know that fear well.

And I am tempted to let it back in when I see my friend’s status Monday night asking for prayer for a friend running in Boston whose safety is yet unknown. It prompts me to search twitter then CNN.com.

Yes, fear knocks loudly when I read about bombs that take lives and limbs and the joy of the finish from both runners and loved-ones alike during America’s iconic marathon in Boston.

Suddenly those less-than eight weeks left here in the Land of the Deutsch sound less appealing, and I wonder if we should just stay here.

Do I really want to return to that place where people get shot just for going to a movie? Or Christmas shopping? Or school? Where bombs blow up people just cheering on their dad who’s running the race of his lifetime?

I am tempted all day to re-think my excitement. What if we just stayed here? Maybe we could avoid the terror that might happen when we get home.

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Then the bobbling buoy of truth takes an above-the-water swing, and I grab it long enough to remember. It’s the truth about fear and afraid of which I cannot lose sight.

There is a certain kind of afraid that will actually lead us into more life rather than keep us from it. It’s called the fear of God.

With all that I am, I remember that God is worth fearing because He is good. He Himself is real life. And if I bank on that truth, I will only live.

He is good enough to know what’s best. Good enough to not let me go where He is not.

I can say boldly that somehow, even in the middle of that summertime movie theater, that elementary school hallway in Newtown, Connecticut. Yes, even in the midst of that Boston street yesterday — God is still good. He is still worth fearing.

He is so good that He grieves with the victims. Stands by and listens as they yell at Him for letting such a horrible thing happen. So good He will wait and keep loving. Keep grieving.

I don’t know why He let it happen. But this I do know: God is good. And He is worth all of my trust because He is Who He is.

So I will trust Him enough to follow Him back to the States just as I have trusted Him enough to bring me here to this foreign land. I will take Him for Who He is and trust that He somehow knows best. That He sees what I cannot.

Because I know Him, I know He can be trusted. Even in the midst of the terror-ridden races and the fear-laden newscasts.

I do not understand. And I do not like it.

But I have nothing to fear.

Because God is still good.

Maybe you don’t get it from deep inside the fear. If that’s the case, might I suggest reading this short little book called Life Unafraid. Perhaps it will give you some needed courage to really, truly live. Or maybe just remind you of a truth you’d forgotten from long ago. You’ll find it in the top right-hand corner of this page. Or you can click right here. Type in your email, and I’ll send you the link to the book.

11 Thoughts on “When Terror Hits Home and You’re Not There

  1. In a world that’s falling apart, God is still there. He IS still good. He allows situations to occur in hopes that fallen man will look up and see Him. Perfect love casteth out all fear. Well done.

    • Thank you, Shelley. It’s sometimes so hard to remember that God is good, and that goodness is better than anything we can imagine. And He wants us to look up. Thanks for your insight.

  2. I am so proud of you, standing up to say God is still God. He is good even when we are terrified and uncertain. Some days we think anything but, cursing this precious God of ours. What a unique perspective you bring today

    • Christa, I was so afraid of coming across as insensitive. Because I believe without a doubt that God totally gets it when we wonder about His goodness when things like this happen. But I also believe He is so good and kind and patient and loving that He just wants to hold us close to Him as we wail and flail and curse. And then finally let HIM calm us.

  3. I used to have those same fears. God will be with you no matter where you are. I’m praying for you and your family. May God give you peace of mind and a safe return.

  4. I appreciate your transparent thoughts and feelings, Bria. Thanks for sharing how you are processing terrorist acts. May God provide more opportunities to share how we trust in Him in spite of horrific circumstances. Praying for the Wasson family.

    • Thank you, Pastor Daron. For the prayers. For the encouragement. I do want to share my faith. Faithfully. 🙂 Thank you for being such a great leader in that.

  5. Your perspective is so necessary. Tragedies should always drive us to the our only refuge and strength- our ever present help in trouble! Thankful for your faithful words, Bria and love you so!

    • You are so right, sweet Becky friend. Oh, to never forget that truth! And to let these things drive us right to the feet of God! Thank you for always pointing me there. 🙂

  6. Christy on April 18, 2013 at 4:00 pm said:

    I can’t help but to think what Facebook and Twitter comment’s and pictures would’ve captured 75-80 years ago in the country you rest your head in now. The horror…the fear!
    Yet God was and is still in control…A Father who loves us and is in control…..blessed assurance to be fearless!

    By the way….. There is a certain kind of afraid that will actually lead us into more life rather than keep us from it. It’s called the fear of God…..MY NEW DESK TOP PIC =)
    Love you friend!!

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