Let the church be cautious but not fearful

Patricia Holbrook of Soaring With Him Ministries
Patricia Holbrook of Soaring With Him Ministries

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

The email caught my husband by surprise. He has worked with the gentleman for three years but did not know that the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York had changed his life forever.

In a short message, his colleague asked my husband to pray for his family. Like many New York residents, 9/11 brings him painful memories. His wife, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and several friends died that dreadful morning. Nineteen years later, his heart still grieves.

To many Americans, the sting and darkness that followed the events of Sept. 11, 2001, are but a memory — another day on the national calendar to remind us to pray for the families of the victims and celebrate the heroes who rushed into burning buildings or bravely charged against the terrorists on United Airlines Flight 93.

An entire generation was born and raised without fully understanding the uncertainty that fell upon America in the aftermath of the attacks.

Like most people, I remember it vividly: The downtown Atlanta skies over the busiest airport in the world, empty of airplane contrails for days; the somber silence that fell over the streets; the eerie quietness which permeated crowded food courts at lunch hour.

We grieved together. We feared together... And we prayed. Oh, how we prayed!

The highways buzzed with traffic on Sunday mornings in the following weeks — people flooding temples as it happens only on Easter Sundays or Passover week.

It was a time of introspection and togetherness.

I remember President George W. Bush’s address to Congress following the attacks. The house, full to the brim, displayed both sides united as I’ve never since before or since. Democrats and Republicans stood in agreement.

We were one nation under God and (for the most part) fully convinced that only God could see us through. And I genuinely believe that, because we stood together and prayed together, we healed together.

We witnessed the same happen when other tragedies stroke our land. Hurricanes that destroyed entire cities. Massive tornadoes that left towns as a heap of debris. Deadly shootings. Wildfires. In each of these tragedies, God’s people rose to pray and commit to standing together.

Indeed, faith and prayer bind people in one common realization: We are not in control.

It does not matter how much money, fame or good health we have. Sooner or later, we are all struck by the realization that we are not masters of our destiny. Whether we submit to the fact that there is a God or not determines how we live through hard times.

With everything happening in America and the world, there seems to have been a shift in the church’s response. I believe many have allowed fear to speak louder than faith.

It’s true — this is a different enemy. One that we have not faced before. And yet, whether it’s COVID-19, the presidential election, the civil unrest in our country, or our next meal, should we not ask our hearts this question:

“Is Yahweh, the God of the Covenant, still on his throne?”

There’s nothing wrong with being proactive and sensible about our well-being. We must take precautions when we get together as a church. We must obey our leaders and set a good example in society.

But when crisis brings forth fear, and fear paralyzes us as a church, aren’t we sending a message contrary to one of God’s most repeated words in the Scriptures? Whether one reads the Torah or the entire Bible, these encouraging words repeat around 365 times between the Old and New Testament:

“Fear Not.”

There’s a reason for that. God knew we need courage more than just about anything else. And so this divine message echoes, unchanged, through the ages:

Governments rise and fall — "Fear Not.:

Economies go up and down — “Fear Not.”

And yes, COVID-19 has changed our society (probably for good) and yet, the message is the same: “Fear Not!”

Indeed, let us remember that our God is still the same and in ultimate control. He hasn’t left his throne and never will. While we face many uncertainties, I say it’s time God’s people take a stand, let the church open its doors, and fear not.

Patricia Holbrook is a columnist, author, blogger and international speaker. Her newly published Bible Study – Twelve Inches – is now available on her website www.soaringwithHim.com. For speaking engagements and comments, email pholbrook@soaringwithHim.com