You know, for a brief moment in my life, I wanted to study journalism. I was down at the J School in Bloomington, Indiana, and I was sitting in an Intro to Journalism class. And I was surrounded by excited people. This kid who sat next me was jazzed. Like, chatting up a storm with everyone around. Now I don’t remember specifics, but I do remember we had to do a quick activity with a partner. My only take away? Everyone else, especially my partner, chatty-mcchatterson, was excited about this. I was absolutely not.
I had zero interest in reporting anything, let alone whatever was happening to anyone else in the world right now. I wanted to write about Jesus and glory and His transformative power. I still do. But parts of me ache when the world seems to be falling into deeper, darker places, and all I can churn out are narratives about Jesus working in my life. It feels menial to discuss my life when people all over the world are dying because of hate and evil.
And yet, here we are. The morning after another attack. The morning after another ruthless murder of dozens. The morning after pain, fear, and terror wreaked havoc. I close my eyes to pray, but only shake my head. All that comes to mind is this: Jesus, what do you need from me here? What can I do?
And it’s this. Right here. It’s showing up. It’s standing up in our places wherever we are and walking in step with where Jesus has called us. It’s being present and prayerful from wherever we stand. Guilt isn’t welcome. Feeling guilt for being here and not there rids me of any wholehearted prayer I can muster.
And what’s more, it’s important to shut down fear before it grows.
It’s easy to say that when what happened last night happened across an ocean. But I mean it for everything. For the presidential election. For the candidate you so want to hate or the one you think needs to be our Commander in Chief. For the politics you think will save or derail us. For the choices your children make. For the day after tomorrow when you don’t know what will happen. For the unknowns. For the opinions you harbor. And especially for the lies you take for truth. Fear camouflages itself so well, in so many forms.
I justify not going somewhere because it’s not somewhere I’ve ever been, I don’t know where it is, I don’t know who will be there. But that’s all fear. I’m scared of being alone.
I justify not speaking up when I know it’s my voice that needs to be heard because I don’t want to be the person who speaks up. But I’m only scared that people will scorn me. Truth is, my voice almost always has a purpose when I have a prompting.
I justify heated debates over politics, policies, candidates, taxes, social and economic issues because they need to be discussed. And they do. But opinion is only opinion. God reigns as the King, and I know Him well enough to know that whomever leads our country is not put there by accident. Fear leads us to cripple our leaders with demeaning words and scorn those who lead us in ways we don’t appreciate. Fear is like a fertilizer for hate.
I justify not addressing the problems and chaos of each day by pretending as though it doesn’t affect me. And in Nice? I wasn’t there. Like I said, an ocean away. But I would be a fool to think it doesn’t. I’m just afraid it will come to my doorstep too. I’m afraid that I might die because people are hateful, people have their own fear, and people don’t know what else to do.
The answer is Jesus. The resolution is in Him. He takes my fear and smashes it into pieces I cannot pick back up. That doesn’t mean I don’t try. But He brings me peace. He buries fear because He is the author of hope.
Stand up where you are. Step into your role that Christ so intricately made just for you, and be present. Keep your eyes on Him, and keep your prayers full. Do your work, do your part. This isn’t all about you, but this isn’t above you. This isn’t apart from you. We can defeat fear. We can smash hate. We really can, because Jesus did it already.