In the face of sudden terror
By Rev. Martin Schoenfeld, St. James Lutheran Church, Howard Lake
When you hear the word “terrorism,” what emotions does it invoke in you?
For some, it may bring about feelings of anger or discomfort. For others, it may bring about images of 9/11 or war. It certainly evokes feelings of fear and uncertainty.
Terrorism can strike anywhere and without warning. It attacks the innocent without provocation. It is designed to cast fear into our hearts.
People in the Middle East have learned to deal with this as a daily reality. When I was in Israel, some of the people in the group that I was studying and traveling with had been in a pizza parlor in Jerusalem. Shortly after they left, a bomb went off inside the restaurant.
Terrorism is that way. It strikes without warning and is designed to cast fear into all people. But this is not only a modern problem with modern solutions and promises.
God, in Holy Scripture, gives us a confidence that easily addresses the headlines we read about in modern newspapers. These are ancient words for modern problems.
Proverbs 3:25-26 reads: “Do not be afraid of sudden terror nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.” (New King James translation)
Terrorists are wicked people. Those who preach hate and encourage others to harm the innocent are wicked. Such wicked people burn in hell for all eternity unless, by God’s grace, they repent of their sins and look to Jesus for forgiveness.
Whether sudden terror comes from evil people or whether it comes from other realities of living in a sinful world, such as illness, death, accidents, violent storms, or family troubles, it is only natural to be afraid. We fear for our physical well-being, our lives, and our livelihoods.
But God assures us in His Holy Word that we do not need to be afraid of sudden terror. Why? The answer is simple.
We need not be afraid because the Lord God will be our confidence. He will supply us with daily bread (Matthew 6:25-34). He will watch over us 24 hours a day and for all eternity (Psalm 121). He will be our eternal confidence (Romans 8:37-39).
We need not be afraid because we know that even if, in this sinful world, sudden terror comes upon us and our lives end, we have confidence of an eternal future in heavenly glory.
Because of Jesus, we can face sudden disaster with confidence. Jesus has gone to the cross and He was terrorized upon the cross for our sins.
When Jesus was on the cross, he faced the terror of our sins at the hands of an angry God so that we need not face such a reality. Jesus faced the terror of death and the grave so that He could rise from the dead and grant to us confidence of the victory He has promised us.
When we believe in Jesus, He forgives us all our sins and grants us eternal salvation. The terror of our sin is forgiven through Christ Jesus. The sting of death has been removed (I Corinthians 15:55-57). Death has been defeated and the victory is ours.
Jesus promises us in John 14:19, “. . . Because I live, you also will live.” Jesus has overcome the troubles of this world so that now, each day of our lives, we can be confident in the Lord. Through faith in Jesus, we need not be afraid.
Only God knows what the future holds for us. Will there be another major terrorist attack in the United States? Will sudden disaster of financial ruin or illness or even death strike us or someone close to us? Will the pains of grief, loneliness, or anxiety strike terror in our hearts?
These questions we are unable to answer. Life is uncertain and even dangerous.
But as we face these troublesome realities of living in a sinful and evil world, God does give us words of assurance and promise: “Do not be afraid of sudden terror nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.”