Shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, the following Q&A article was placed on the Grace to You resource page. Six years after the original events, this reminder is still as timely as ever.
Question: Since the attacks on September 11, I’ve been anxious — even afraid. How can I be content when I’m worried the terrorists will strike again, perhaps where I live?
Response: Government officials warn another attack on the United States appears likely and despite their best efforts to protect, none of us is guaranteed safety. And so you’re certainly not alone in how you feel. All of us have felt unsettled since the terrorists assaulted our nation.
With the media giving alerts on anything remotely related to terrorist activity, some tremble, fearing the frontline may lurk anywhere—around the corner, at work, at home, or even in the atmosphere or drinking water. Others are more worried their business or retirement fund won’t survive the blow to an already over-burdened economy.
Doubtless, these are fearful times for many. Yet there is good news to report. But you won’t find the headline tracking across the screen of any news broadcast. The good news is found in God’s Word. It declares that though we are weak, vulnerable humans, God’s children can find strength and grace in Him even in debilitating circumstances. In fact, His resources are so abundant that He often displays His power through our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9).
In a world that fears death, lives in complete emptiness, and has no hope or peace, God’s people can stand as testimonies that He is alive and gloriously at work, ministering in the hearts of His own.
Here are a few biblical principles we trust will quiet your heart in contentment, even when all you may sense right now is weakness or worry.
Face Death Confidently
The first principle is this: death is inevitable for everyone. At first glance, that doesn’t appear a helpful cure for anxiety at all, does it? But unless you come to grips with that reality, none of the other principles listed below will provide you with any contentment at all.
There are many ways to die, whether by terrorist attacks or “natural causes,” but each one ushers the dead before God in judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Are you prepared for that judgment? Do you have confidence God will spare you? On what basis do you hope to have God’s eternal acceptance? We urge you to examine your spiritual state before God. Click here to read an article that can guide you through that examination.
Once you’ve settled the matter of your eternal destiny after death, Scripture says you can have confidence in the face of danger. You’ve learned the comfort Jesus delivered when He said:
Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:28-31)
Face Tomorrow Hopefully
At times you can lose focus on your security after death and tremble over tomorrow. God, in His fatherly compassion for our child-like weaknesses, has given us biblical instruction on how to deal with that kind of worry and anxiety. Matthew 6:25-34 contains tailor-made instruction for peace and contentment. In that passage, Jesus gives us three reasons for not worrying about this life: Worry is unnecessary because of our Father, uncharacteristic because of our faith, and unwise because of our future.
Unnecessary Because of Our Father. For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they (vv. 25-26)?
Uncharacteristic Because of Our Faith. And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith (vv. 27-30)!
Unwise Because of Our Future. Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (vv.31-34)
Face Today Actively
Just as Matthew 6 is Jesus’ great statement on worry, Philippians 4 is the apostle Paul’s charter on how to avoid anxiety. The teaching is clear, compelling, and direct. In Philippians 4:6–9, Paul says not to worry, but he doesn’t leave you there. He helps you fill the vacuum by directing you toward positive steps: right praying, right thinking, and right action.
Right Praying. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [vv. 6-7].
Right Thinking. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things [v. 8].
Right Living. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you [v. 9].
Reflect on God’s truth expressed in those verses, meditate on the Bible — especially the Psalms — and you will find your heart settled by a kind of peace that abides no matter what circumstances or uncertainties come your way.