Summary: The truths we need to have planted in our lives are: Our security is: 1. In God, not the things of this world. 2. In our faith, not our safety. 3. In eternity, not our present circumstances. 4. The fact that even though life is dangerous, life is good.
When the events of this week began to unfold, we were all in shock. We didn’t know what to think. Was this an accident, or was it something planned? But when the second plane slammed into the World Trade Center building there was little doubt that terrorism was involved. Then when the Pentagon was hit, it began to dawn us that we were under attack. The White House and Air Force One were also planned targets. President Bush has declared these senseless acts of violence “acts of war.” It is the worst attack on our country in its history.
This week was like living out a scene in Dante’s Inferno. In the beginning there was shock and horror, but it seemed surreal. It was like watching a movie with special effects. It didn’t seem real, because things like this don’t happen here. This is the United States. This may happen in Israel and other places, but not here. Then as live reports from ground zero came in and we saw the devastation, the reality of it all began to sink in. People everywhere began to panic. Traffic lined the streets trying to buy gas at any price. Stores were crammed with people stockpiling groceries and supplies. Terrorism’s purpose is to create terror, and it did so in the hearts of many.
On Wednesday morning, President Bush, surrounded by the National Security Team in the Cabinet room, told the American people: “We are facing a different enemy than we have ever faced.” How true that is. During World War I and II, we knew who the enemy was and where they were. We met each other on the battle field using weapons of war against the military of other nations.
Then came the Cold War. There was a change in the way war was carried out, as nations who had once been allies armed themselves with nuclear weapons of mass destruction and pointed them at each other. We heard terms like “Assured Mutual Destruction.” Bomb shelters were built, and people stockpiled food and equipment in the event that such an attack would take place.
Then the Vietnam War came, and we were engaged with an enemy that was often indistinguishable from civilians. We were on the enemy’s home turf, mostly fighting jungle skirmishes, rather than the large battles to which we were accustomed.
The Persian Gulf War seemed almost sterile as high tech missiles slammed our enemies from a distance, and our military personnel were not as directly engaged as they had been in other wars. We felt more powerful and safer than ever before.
But now we are in a war with terrorism. This new enemy does not fight fair. They do not even have a country. Our military is not their target as much as innocent civilians. Civilization itself has come under attack. Military weapons were not even used, but men with box cutters commandeered our own civilian planes and turned them against us. As one official said, “Until now, we had no category of ‘enemy airliners.’” The enemy seems to be everywhere and nowhere. It is like trying to shoot a shadow. And worst of all, we are not fighting an enemy in another part of the world, the war is taking place on the shores of our own country. We have been invaded, and we feel vulnerable like we never knew we would. The demise of the victims makes shows like “Survivor” seem out of place. The concern is that we don’t know what is coming next. Will there be other acts of terrorism carried out on us? How long will the war last? Will it escalate and involve other nations? All of these questions create anxiety and angst.
How do we react to living in an unsafe world? What is our response as Christians? From where does our security come? We draw our strength from a different source than those who do not know God. As the Scripture says: “Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8). That is good, but what does it mean in practical terms? How does that play out in times like these? Our security in an unsafe world comes from several truths which the Scriptures teach us. The first truth we need to have planted deeply in our lives is this: Our security is in God, not in the things of this world. Every day, as I read the Scriptures in my morning devotions, I take one portion of what I have read and write it on a small card and place it in my pocket. I am reminded of its truth each time I touch it throughout the day. On Tuesday, I had read from 1 Timothy 1:1, and I wrote down four words from that verse which say, “Christ Jesus our hope.” I had no idea how much I would lean upon those words Tuesday, and the comfort they would bring. He is our hope — and nothing else. The Bible says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm” (Psalm 20:7-8). Our faith is not in our military power, our intelligence network, our economy and financial institutions, the power of our foreign alliances; our hope is in the Lord our God. The Bible says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4).