Tag Archives: fear

Stylish bomb shelters

CNN reporter Elizabeth Stamp did a feature on billionaire bunkers in April. She discovered a developer who had turned two abandoned U.S. Army Corps of Engineers missile silos into condominiums. For the prosperous survivalist, one can choose a 900 square foot half-floor residence or 2-level penthouse with 3600 square feet. The latter starts at $4.5 million. There are other available comforts in the complex – like a pool, general store, theater, bar, and library.

If you want to get away from it all, why not do it in style?

Talk of apocalypse is on the rise. Volatile and divisive politics, increasing and worsening violence, erratic and deadly weather events … the list of factors that create a pall over the future grows by the day. Are we on the brink of nuclear war? Are there strains of bacteria we cannot fight off? Will terrorism become the irresistible force? Will an asteroid collide with the earth? Does humanity have a realistic chance for survival?

I don’t remember when I heard it first, but I’m glad I did hear it: “I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know Who holds the future.”

There are indeed many reasons for concern. I am not naïve about the myriad dangers that lurk nearby. But I refuse to live in fear. You won’t find this exact quote in Scripture, but there is truth is these three words I can hear the Father saying: “I’ve got this.”

Lessons Learned?

William Sloane Coffin, pastor and author, was known for his activism in civil rights issues and war protests. He was also a dad. In 1983, his son Alexander was killed in a car accident when the young man was 24. For all his political arguments and actions, Coffin was humbled by the violent death of one of his children.

In the days soon after the tragedy, he and his family received a healing flood of ministry and messages. One cherished letter ended with a quote from Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms: “The world breaks everyone, then some become strong at the broken places.”

In the wake of 9/11, it did not take long for some to become strong at the broken places. First responders, construction workers, medical volunteers, and many others swarmed New York after the towers fell. People donated blood, gave money, organized community events, gathered in houses of worship, volunteered for military service, reached out to neighbors and strangers …

For a time, our nation and much of the world pushed aside differences and disagreements to become a human family. Many countries lost citizens on that dreadful Tuesday. Most people saw the face of evil that day and chose to respond, not just to vow vengeance but to draw close to those devastated by the attacks.

How has our world changed in 15 years? I wish I could say we learned our lesson, we realized how fragile life is, we work harder to build strong, safe communities, we pay attention to the hurting and displaced, and we refuse to surrender to fear. One of the common declarations following 9/11 was “Never again.” It seems we are as vulnerable now as ever.

Our enemy is not just the radical Islamist. Our enemies are complacency, selfishness, willful ignorance, lack of empathy, faith, and grace. For a short while, churches and temples were full of people on their knees in prayer. Today, the scene is far different. Someone wisely said, “Before we stand for anything, we should kneel about everything.”

“Lord, listen to Your children praying.”

Small things?

The night of horror at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris contained many tragic stories. The senseless killing seemed to go on and on. A crowd of mostly twenty-somethings were easy targets for the heartless attackers who aimed carefully or tossed grenades among those huddled on the floor trying to escape the carnage. One man realized that the attention of the murderers was drawn to cell phones ringing. The ghostly light of a phone provided another target. The man frantically shut his phone down and probably saved his life.

Another man stood at the back of the crowd while the American band Eagles of Death Metal played. He began to move through the press as he heard his favorite song. He was at the edge of the stage when the gunfire began. He was able to escape.

The survivor stories bring only a small measure of comfort in the face of such grief and loss. As the world now struggles with how to face this newest plague of evil, individual lives are having to cope with shattered dreams and devastating brokenness.

In this season of Thanksgiving, it will be incredible difficult for people in many circumstances to feel grateful. They may be overwhelmed by the crushing load of disappointment, discouragement, and defeat. They may have been recipients of bad news – relationships rocked, health imperiled, finances depleted. It would be easy to fall into the perspective of the writer of Ecclesiastes at the first of his essay on life: “What’s the use? Everything is meaningless.”

Matthew recorded a moment in the ministry of Jesus when He surveyed the crowd, saw and felt their pain: “He felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36). Two chapters later, Matthew wrote down the words of a beckoning Savior: “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and worn out, and I will give you rest.” (11:28)

In the small things or the big ones, do we have something for which we can be grateful?

From Psalm 3 and the powerful song based on its text:

“But Thou, O Lord, are a shield for me; my glory and the lifter of my head.

I cried unto the Lord with my voice and He heard my out of His holy hill.

I laid down and slept and awaked,

For the Lord sustained, for He sustained me.”

Oh, yes, Lord. Hold us in the palm of Your hand. Lift up our heads!


I guess they are trying to hype the rugged safety and security of their new SUV. Threatening skies, rumbles of thunder form the backdrop of a family outing in their new vehicle. The narrator scoffs at the idea that their brand new car has anything to fear from Mother Nature. The tag line: Unstoppable.

Really? How many times do we need a reminder that man vs. nature is often an unfair contest. Hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, floods, ice storms, blizzards, drought, thunderstorms, and heavy winds come to mind.

In 1974, our seminary was in the path of a tornado that was carving its way through Louisville, Kentucky. Hearing the sound, watching the funnel cloud coming straight at me, I don’t remember thinking I was unstoppable; I thought that tornado was unstoppable.

Surveying the damage after Hurricane Andrew crushed South Florida in 1992, I felt small and defenseless in the face of such destructive power. I never felt the need to thrust out my chest, shake my fist at the heavens, and shout, “Bring it on!”

Nature did bring it and we were helpless to resist such power.

I know the commercial was not suggesting that Mother Nature is no threat. I know they are just trying to sell the next generation of a popular SUV. Still, a little more humility is called for.

I think that is part of the human dilemma. We seem to be able to convince ourselves that we are invincible, indestructible … until an accident occurs or a doctor gives us bad test results. James wrote: “How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog – it’shere a little while, then it’s gone.”

Perhaps it is time to drag out an old cliché: “I may not know what the future holds, but I do know Who holds the future.”

We can live in fear or we can live in trust. The only thing that is truly unstoppable is the love of God.

Another Day of Horror … and Heroism

Picture from Fox News

Picture from Fox News

Terror strikes again. When you first heard the news about Boston, you likely whispered or cried out, “Oh, no, not again!” We have seen the face of evil before but we never get accustomed to such sights. There was plenty of fear, panic, and pain near the finish line for the Boston Marathon. There was also plenty of courage, bold action, and selflessness. We see the worst of humanity at times like this; we also see the best. First responders yesterday were not just in uniform. Spectators waiting for loved ones and friends to cross the finish line, runners completing the grueling 26.2 mile course, people from shops and office buildings … turned their attention and aid to those injured. Lives were saved because the response was immediate and effective.

We grieve over the devastating losses and damage done. We pray for those whose lives were changed forever. We seek to find ways to bring hope and help. One day evil will be through, not because we figure out how to stop it but because one day God will say “enough.” I long for that day.