When the news report began to spread on Friday that another mass murder occurred, and that it was at an elementary school, my initial reaction was to hug my boys and think, There's no way in hell I'm sending my kid to kindergarten next year. That's the last straw. There's still a good chance my kids will be be going to public school, but this was my initial reaction. Draw the chicks in closer to the nest and not let them out of sight.
I mourn for those parents whose worst nightmares became a reality. I mourn for those children and the terror they must have witnessed seeing their entire class gunned down. I mourn for the brokenness. And in the midst of the mourning tears fall as I clutch my own little ones close and I mourn the fear that has entered in.
I am carrying fear.
As someone who calls herself a follower of Jesus, I turn to scripture and see that perfect love drives out fear. Jesus is perfect love (1 John 4:18). His spirit dwells in my heart. There should be no fear.
But I am still carrying fear.
When we go shopping, I catch myself looking for the nooks and crannies where I could tuck in the boys in case a gunman storms in. I don't have agoraphobia, because I'm not in a state of panic. I'm just making a plan in case of chaos. However, I don't believe I have been to the movie theater since the Colorado shooting.
And then I fear the darkness in our own hearts.
It's far too easy to marinate in that fear - to stand in the shower with the water beating down and the tears falling, I've spent hours combing the news reports, reading about mental health, looking at stats on public shootings. Yet have I spent time turning to the ONE who sees all, knows all, and extends comfort? Sadly, not until now.
There is so much in scripture about God being with us, comforting us, helping us - not letting evil touch us.
Life, death, chaos is unpredictable. God doesn't promise safety. He promises He won't leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).
I'm to walk through life with confidence. "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)"
"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor
height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to
separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)"
One part of dealing with this fear is reevaluating in what or whom my hope lies. Do I hope in safety? Do I hope in my boys' futures? Do I trust in my ability to avoid danger? Do I long for control? Do I trust in the goodness of humanity? Do I hope in physical safety, three square meals, and warm beds? Do I value snuggles with my kids above all else?
If my hope doesn't rest in Jesus alone, then I'm pretty sure my eyes will roll at all of the scripture above. And I feel the cynicism in my heart. I do. It scares me. Actually, I think this is my deepest fear of all - what if I can't believe?
My fear is unbelief.
This leads to the other part of the struggle - letting head knowledge of
these scriptures seep down into the heart and become soul assurance.
How? "I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my
fears. (Psalm 34:1)" We pray, " “I believe; help my unbelief! (Mark 9:24). Oh, how simple that sounds.
There is Someone greater than that fear - Someone who drives out that fear, someone who redeems those fears with hope, joy, peace, and love. Are the fears irrational? No. I don't think so, but they don't get to rule my heart. I don't have this figured out or pretend that I do. I just have to be honest with God and say, "I'm struggling here. I'm a mess, and I need to see You."