Whenever I face something I can’t comprehend, I turn to Scripture.
Most certainly, I cannot comprehend the recent events in Manchester, England. And, so I’m turning to Scripture for understanding, courage, and solace.
In the far-out chance you haven’t heard, last night an explosion killed 22 and wounded 59 persons at an Ariana Grande concert taking place at the Manchester Arena. ISIS has claimed responsibility and a 23-year old man has been arrested in connection with the attack. Concert-goers are said to have been primarily in their teens and pre-teens. One 8-year-old girl is among the dead.
What really drove it home for me is that a colleague of mine lives just a half-mile from the arena in which the attack occurred.
Regardless of how near or far from home the attack is for us, the entire, awful incident can breed fear and discouragement in our hearts. ISIS has not minced words in their constant recurring threats that there will be more such attacks all over the world. They want us to be afraid, and it’s becoming more and more difficult to resist that fear.
When will it happen next?
Where will it happen next?
Will is happen to someone I know?
Will it happen to me?
These are real concerns and yet we absolutely cannot allow fear to take over our hearts. Amid all seeming impossibility, we must remain hope-filled because once we lose hope, we lose everything.
The best part is that we have Reason to hope: Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Throughout the Scriptures, the People of God faced frightening, overwhelming threats. Each time, God promised his grace and protection for all who cling to Him. While on earth, Jesus re-assured us of the love of his Father and his promises.
It’s time, I think, to look again to Scripture and to remind ourselves that we cannot allow fear to overtake us and that there is Hope.
Below are eight passages from the Bible that I feel speak well to the Manchester situation and to the terrorism threat in general. Each one contains a specific message of hope that I believe will lift your spirits and calm your heart. Read them, pray them, meditate on them, and take them to heart. Most of all, allow them to fil you with hope.
I am with you.
Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. (Is 41:10)
Have no fear or dread of them.
Be strong and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them, for it is the LORD, your God, who marches with you; he will never fail you or forsake you. (Dt 31:6)
I command you: be strong and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD, your God, is with you wherever you go. (Josh 1:9)
He comes to save you.
Say to the fearful of heart:
Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
With divine recompense
he comes to save you. (Is 35:4)
Fear no evil.
The LORD is my shepherd,
there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures he makes me lie down;
to still waters he leads me;
he restores my soul.
He guides me along right paths
for the sake of his name.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff comfort me.
You set a table before me
in front of my enemies,
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Indeed, goodness and mercy* will pursue me
all the days of my life;
I will dwell in the house of the LORD
for endless days. (Ps 23)
Nothing can separate you from the love of God.
What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. Who will condemn? It is Christ [Jesus] who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we are being slain all the day;
we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:31-39)
God will hide you in his shelter.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
When evildoers come at me
to devour my flesh,
These my enemies and foes
themselves stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart does not fear;
Though war be waged against me,
even then do I trust.
One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the LORD’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the LORD’s beauty,
to visit his temple.
For God will hide me in his shelter
in time of trouble,
He will conceal me in the cover of his tent;
and set me high upon a rock.
Even now my head is held high
above my enemies on every side!
I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and chant praise to the LORD.
Hear my voice, LORD, when I call;
have mercy on me and answer me.
“Come,” says my heart, “seek his face”;
your face, LORD, do I seek!
Do not hide your face from me;
do not repel your servant in anger.
You are my salvation; do not cast me off;
do not forsake me, God my savior!
Even if my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will take me in.
LORD, show me your way;
lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Do not abandon me to the desire of my foes;
malicious and lying witnesses have risen against me.
I believe I shall see the LORD’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD, take courage;
be stouthearted, wait for the LORD! (Ps 27)
His faithfulness is a protecting shield.
You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shade of the Almighty,
Say to the LORD, “My refuge and fortress,
my God in whom I trust.”
He will rescue you from the fowler’s snare,
from the destroying plague,
He will shelter you with his pinions,
and under his wings you may take refuge;
his faithfulness is a protecting shield.
You shall not fear the terror of the night
nor the arrow that flies by day,
Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness,
nor the plague that ravages at noon.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
near you it shall not come.
You need simply watch;
the punishment of the wicked you will see.
Because you have the LORD for your refuge
and have made the Most High your stronghold,
No evil shall befall you,
no affliction come near your tent.
For he commands his angels with regard to you,
to guard you wherever you go.
With their hands they shall support you,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You can tread upon the asp and the viper,
trample the lion and the dragon.
Because he clings to me I will deliver him;
because he knows my name I will set him on high.
He will call upon me and I will answer;
I will be with him in distress;
I will deliver him and give him honor.
With length of days I will satisfy him,
and fill him with my saving power. (Ps 91)
Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed.
Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. (Mt 10:26-28)