Fearing the Next Terror Attack?

When your heart is overwhelmed with fear, hearing the counsel to “Just trust God” can seem a bit unrealistic and even unsympathetic. But actually, the action of intentionally moving your heart to a place of trust is the safest, most reasonable and realistic thing you can do. Trusting God requires something, it is a hard choice and truly “trusting God” can only happen when you know His character.

Trusting Him is the response when you know Him intimately.

I’ve talked about how to battle regret using 2 Cor. 10:3–5 because it provides us with instruction for how to respond when wrong thinking creeps in. That passage challenges us to “take every thought captive” so that our thoughts line up in obedience to God’s truth. In other words, my mind needs to be renewed, to be filled with God’s thoughts, in order to think rightly and battle the lies the enemy throws at me.

Whether it’s the enemy using fear tactics, or my own default position to worry, I need to take those thoughts “captive” to obey Christ.

What does that look like when it comes to worry?

I believe the best strategy for battling worry is to remind myself of God’s character, of His “big picture” and then to follow His instructions on this topic.

Worry Abolishing Truth: God’s Faithful Character

When I remind myself of God’s faithfulness, who He has revealed Himself to be throughout history, and personally in my own life in the past—it settles my heart in truth. My fears may be different from yours, but I think in some sense we all fear making wrong choices, missing God’s will, and fear the pain that comes from conflict with others. And then there is the awareness that the evil one seeks to devour us or our loved ones. He’s always trying to inflict fear of the future, fear of the unknown, fear from the “what ifs.” Today, most of the world is living in fear, aware that the next terror attack may be unleashed in their neighborhood today.

“All day long an attacker oppresses me . . .” (Psalm 56:2)

I hope you’ll pull out your Bible and follow along with me as we walk through Psalm 56.

Psalm 56 helps me counter worry. Simply put—I have no reason to fear as long as my trust is in God. And although my head knows that, it really helps to be reminded that He sees, He knows, and He cares:

“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” (v.8)

He is aware of all that is coming against me . . . none of it has taken Him by surprise. I find great comfort in knowing that He is a God of details, and reminding myself that not one hair falls, not one injustice is shown, without His knowledge.

And then we come to this precious promise. I love this truth tucked into verse 9:

“This I know, that God is for me.”

Did you hear that?

Let that sink in a minute.

Pull open your Bible so you can see it for yourself. “God is for me.”

Now check out Romans 8:31:

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” 

It’s almost like Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) is saying, “Look, it’s a no-brainer. Weigh what you’re fearful of, in comparison to God’s commitment to you, and ask yourself how the two sides compare!  Face the angry crowd, the empty bank balance, the prodigal child, the lonely nights . . . with this knowledge, remind yourself Who you belong to and Who is committed to be on your side.

The fearful circumstances may bottom out one side of the scale, but if you could place God on the other side . . . the scale would explode!

God’s commitment to be “for you” outweighs anything that comes against you. God being “for us” doesn’t mean I won’t face opposition, I won’t get cancer, I won’t lose a loved one, or I’ll have plenty of funds for a comfortable life. But His commitment to be “for me” means that I can trust Him to lead me through the opposition, to provide what I need in the midst of cancer or loss, to be my safe place no matter what occurs.

“In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (v.11) 

That’s the truth . . . now how do I live that out when my heart is racing, my stomach churning, and my windpipe closes? Well, thankfully the Psalmist includes the answer in the next verse: 

“I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you.” 

What are my vows?

It is a voluntary expression of praise and gratitude given to God: thanksgiving. Wow. This is what my response is supposed to be in the face of all my fear . . . thankfulness.

There is more to say about this (way more) than what I can cover in a blog post, but let me encourage you to take a peek at these instructions:

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:18)

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1:2–3)

How can I offer thanksgiving for the fearful opposition I’m facing?

For the scary unknown?

Only by remembering Who I belong to, Who is committed to me, and putting my trust in His faithful character. When I offer my “vows,” when I lift up praise and thanksgiving to God—I am demonstrating that I trust Him to “keep my feet from falling” (v.13), I trust His character and His ways—no matter what I’m facing. I am thanking Him for being my Deliverer and I am pressing into the path of faith He has carved out for me today—“walking before God in the light of life” (Psalm 56:13).

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. —G.K. Chesterton

What do you fear today?

What’s your battle plan for countering those fears?

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  • Kathryn

    Kim this is a much needed word when we look at our communities, families, country, and the world in chaos. As a nurse one of the recurring diagnosis I see on patients medical records is that of anxiety/worry. I would probably add fear however that is not a diagnosis that is used. YES. We must remind ourselves throughout the day who God is and that we can trust Him. I worry/fear for our precious children. College is on the horizon and I see the turmoil
    in the world and want to keep them under our roof- protected, loved, and cared for. I am a “momma bear” at heart and if I allow myself will fall into fearful traps ( usually thoughts) about our children. I am convicted by the Holy Spirit to give THANKS and to PRAY continually. Thank you for your discerning spirit to share these words of truth. God bless you.

  • Becky Arnold

    The word “trust” at first glimpse (to me) seems like a passive verb, and it’s hard to figure out. Maybe because it’s been tossed around so often in hard situations. I want it to actually be an active verb in my life. The thanksgiving part helps give it tangible action. Because I can be tempted by fear quickly, the hard part is remembering to begin immediately to be thankful and grateful — as the storm begins — and not wait until after Jesus has calmed it. The thanksgiving of Who He is and who I am in Him can lead to trust which leads to the Lord calming me, even if the storm still rages around me.

    Thank you, Kim. I love this series! It is a good reminder to me of the things we went through 5 years ago that God used to show me how fear is my first response. Going through the game plan again is good for my soul since we are again in the middle of a hurting time and I am tempted daily to fear. God is using these posts in my life to “remember the things you’ve learned and have been taught.” May He use them far and wide to bring us to Him again and again. He is so faithful!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello, Kathryn ~

    I am a momma bear at heart, too! It is so hard to continually let go my fears and leave my cares for our little ones in the hands of our Faithful Savior. It isn’t that He isn’t trustworthy, but when I’m filled with anxiety it indicates that I’ve forgotten how trustworthy He is!

    Thanks for sharing, friend 🙂

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Yes, He is, Becky! Thank you for sharing and for challenging us to live in the active verb of “trust” daily 🙂