When horrid events like what transpired on Monday night occur, I can’t help but be seized by fear.
No one walked into the Manchester arena thinking anything other than that they were excited to hear Ariana Grande perform.
None of the victims got dressed up with their friends, or bought a concert t-shirt, or carpooled their daughters and sons into downtown Manchester knowing that particular night would be their last.
While reading the latest reports last night I found myself seething in anger and recoiling in fear. Who, in their heart of hearts, could do such an evil thing? How could this happen? Will it ever stop? What are we to do in the face of so much evil – is it even worth trying?
Eight years ago, I jokingly quoted Psalm 23 every morning on my walk to work. From the dark parking lot, through another dark corridor, and into the middle school where I used to teach, I’d repeat:
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” Psalm 23:4
As a twenty-two year old in her first year of teaching, many days felt like the valley of the shadow of death to me. I remember praying to God for strength, perseverance, and sanity to get through all of my classes without crying or having to break up any fights.
Today, as I reflect on the current events hitting our newsstands, Psalm 23 is the scripture where I am finding the same strength, courage and fortitude to keep moving, hoping and believing in good.
We may never have all the answers (especially to the questions posed above), but we can rest in the words of David that remind us that the God is with us and cares for us in all the tragedies of our lives.
David writes in his 23rd Psalm:
The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths
for His name’s sake.
Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff–they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
as long as I live.
In the face of evil and fear we must seek refuge in remembering what David says about our God:
He is our shepherd. He leads and renews us along the paths and within the circumstances of our lives.
He is with us and His presence comforts us so that we need not to be afraid.
He prepares a table for us so that our cups overflow; He provides everything for our needs and then some more – even in the face of our enemies, so that those against us and the evil of this world cannot hinder His goodness and provision.
His spirit dwells with us and his goodness and mercy follow us. Because of this, we reside in him forever, and we have nothing to fear.
May you learn to trust God amidst the fear.
May we, as our world continues to taste the plots of the evil one, stand up in the unity available to us through the blood of Christ and march through the valley of the shadow of death hand in hand and heart in heart with our heads held high forever praising our God and trusting that his goodness will come.