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27 November 2015

Watch over your heart

Watch over your heart

There are moments when we find that a fog of confusion seems to have settled on our streets, and fear crouches at our door.

The shock of the Paris attacks, now two weeks ago, caught so many of us off guard and has left few unaffected. How can we possibly navigate and respond to these events of terror that seem to shake the everyday security that we so often take for granted?

The US has issued a worldwide travel alert. Rome has installed metal detectors at the Coliseum. Brussels has cancelled a large student festival. Armed soldiers stand guard at many stations, airports and metros across Europe. Airlines cancel flights. Families lay aside holiday plans. Individuals ask many a 'what if?', looking forward, and reflecting back.

And it's here I want to pause; on this individual level of response. We sometimes look to be more informed by asking ourselves the 'what if?' questions that arise. What if this is just the beginning? What if we had done things differently – would the outcome have been the same?

We often try to find peace through our understanding of the circumstances we find ourselves in. But the knowledge of what is to come is not ours, and our answers will not bring us peace.

Throughout the Bible, so many heroes of our faith were faced with situations of terror. Many situations they encountered challenged their safety and security, and would also have been a challenge their image of God. Though it's of utmost importance that we consider our active outward response, there is a far greater question that must be asked. In all this, who do we know God to be?

I want to suggest that for each of us there lies a personal invitation to consider the nature of God afresh today, to acknowledge where these events of terror have triggered doubt and fear within us, and to remember His active presence with us.

When traumatic circumstances seek to challenge the truths we claim to build our life on, do we react or do we respond? Amidst the responses of governments, families and individuals, there is a response of utmost importance for each of us today: we must take a moment to realign our hearts with the reality of who God is.

Do we believe that God is our protector? That He is powerful and present? Do we believe that He actually cares, and that he is truly sovereign? Though seemingly inactive, I believe this is one of the greatest actions that we can take in times like this.

"Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life" Proverbs 4:23.

I've noticed moments of believing that there is no hope, that darkness is winning, that we are unsafe. These thoughts are toxic and threaten to contaminate. We must guard our hearts in these challenging moments, and be vigilant in not allowing lies to muddy the life-giving water of our hearts.

Let me end on this; God is not scared of our fears, or the questions that arise in these moments. He invites us to draw close to Him, and wrestle with Him in times of confusion and contradiction. I asked God to help me trust Him.

There is no panic that He can't help. He is so confident that His consistent, unfailing heartbeat will settle us. His love never fails to bring peace, and the death and resurrection of His Son will never fail to be enough.

Caitlin Stansbury – youth and student worker for The Stewards' Trust.

Image: Caitlin Stansbury