A Biblical Response to Terror and Violence

Within the space of only one month and four days, at least three significant events of violence and terrorism have occurred right here in the United States.

  • On October 1, a gunman fired from the Mandalay Bay Resort on a crowd of more than 20,000 gathered on the Las Vegas Strip. The attack killed 58 people and injured more than 500. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
  • On October 31, a truck rammed into cyclists and pedestrians on a bike path near the World Trade Center in Manhattan. The attack killed 8 people and injured at least 12 others.
  • On November 5, a man walked into a small church in the rural Texas town of Sutherland Springs, shooting and killing 26 people.

Events like this arrest our attention. Living and working in the New York metro area, the terror attack in Manhattan especially captures my attention. And since I also worship in a Baptist church on Sundays, the attack in Sutherland Springs captures my attention as well.

How should I respond to these events? Should I be afraid? Should I change my plans for service to God? Should I worry that something like this will happen to me soon, also? In his second letter to Timothy, Paul provides an excellent reminder of how a believer should respond to the feelings of dread and cowardly fear. It is important to note that he wrote these words as a prisoner facing death by execution for his godly reputation as a Christian minister.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV)

Remember God

Christian friend, when terrible tragedies occur, you should pause to remember that God continues to exist and to function as the great, sovereign, supernatural being, giving life and holding everything together that he has made. He ensures that everything bad will be made right, and every good purpose will be fulfilled. Though the details of life may appear to spin out of control, God continues to reign over all things.

Furthermore, God not only reigns over all things, but he gives you everything that you need to accomplish your purpose in life, both in the full scope of your life and in the details of your daily roles, tasks, and schedules. He provides what you need where it really matters – in your spirit. Terrible and crazy things will happen in the world around you. This is not a new reality, and it will continue to be this way. But God, through the Holy Spirit within you, who is God himself, supplies you internally with an endless supply of divine enablement to press on with peace and courage, no matter what array of terrible things may threaten to harm you.

Rely on God

Knowing that God personally dwells within you and provides you with all that you need to move forward, no matter how grave the threats around you may be, you should learn to rely on him completely. Calmly, consistently, courageously rely on God within you to do what he has given you to do, and don’t let fear of loss or danger alter or capsize your plans.

For Complete Ability

From within, God supplies you with a deep and supernatural supply of power. This means that he provides you with the ability to perform whatever tasks he has given you to do. Be sure to know his will by studying his Word in a responsible, prayerful way. But don’t let threats of harm and danger, failure and pain alter your God-given course. He will give you the ability from within, no matter what the present danger may be.

For Unchanging Compassion

From within, God also supplies you with a deep and supernatural supply of compassion. This means that when mean and hurtful people threaten to harm you, as you live to serve God and others, you can love them and love God in an unchanging way and even more. So, when terror strikes, you should love people more, not less. And you should love God more and not less also. God will give you this love from within, no matter what the present danger may be.

For Clear Thinking

From within, God also supplies you with a deep and supernatural supply of clear and sensible thinking. This means that when cowardly fear strikes your heart, you will know what to think and how to respond. This requires regular reflection on the words of God in Scripture. And by knowing what God says, you will be able to remember his thoughts and respond to terrible things in a calm, courageous, and sensible way, rather than in a panic of dread and worry. God will give you this wisdom from within, no matter what the present danger may be.

The news cycle preys on fear, and our sinful world provides and endless stream of terrible stories to tell. Knowing this, Jesus himself forewarned us all that “in the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). When tragedy strikes around you, do not be surprised, and do not grow overwhelmed or distracted by fear. Go on doing what God has given you to do, remembering God and relying upon him for the ability, compassion, and clear thinking that you need. Do not give way to cowardly fear.

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