I stood in line earlier this week at the security checkpoint of Baltimore-Washington International, looking down at my watch, certain that I would miss my flight to Atlanta. Security was on high alert following the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris and subsequent threats to my homeland. Lines were moving extremely slowly.
My concern about missing the flight was actually welcome. It made my thoughts veer from fears that tried to take over my heart. Mostly, the fear of flying – an old unwelcome guest every time I have had to hop on a plane since 1997. It’s silly, I know. After all, according to statistics collected from 1993 to 2012 by PlaneCrashInfo.com, the probability of being killed on a major airline plane crash is 1 in 4.7 million. Even if you’re flying on one of the airlines with the worst safety records, your odds are still 1 in 2 million.
But the fact that I was once a passenger on an airplane that lost an engine after takeoff 18 years ago, coupled with my brother-in-law’s tragic death when his twin engine crashed in 2012, seems to overcome every data and any rationale. Indeed, fear is a most powerful emotion. It’s often senseless, and yet it has the potential to cripple the strongest, most rational human being. Its powerful tentacles can paralyze us and test our faith. When we give into fear, not only do we miss great opportunities in life, but we allow our emotions to dim our trust in God.
The terror attacks in Paris sent a wave of fear and conflicting emotions throughout the globe. Hate, revenge and hopelessness have permeated the airwaves and social media, while people of all walks of life and faiths debate the Syrian refugee crisis and how to fight ISIS, a cancer that seems to be quickly spreading its death to the West.
While our family discussed the threats of terror in the homeland one night last week, our younger daughter started covering her ears. “I don’t like to hear these things, Mommy,” she said. I had to remind her that the most repeated sentence in the Bible is “Do not fear. I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” And yet, I preach to myself, I know. Because fear is real when danger is imminent, even if you know all the right verses and statistics are on your side. But we must strive not to let it rotten our heart to the point of paralyzing our lives and changing us from people who pray and trust, to people who fear and tremble at the sight of danger. And yes, we must not be afraid to defend our freedom, not out of fear or hate, but because our freedom is a most precious gift, granted to us by almighty God and defended through the years with the blood of our brave soldiers.
Whether it pertains to worldwide terror or personal anxieties, when fear threatens to paralyze us, we must deliberately press on, lest we miss life’s greatest joys. I am certainly glad that I chose to get on that plane and overcome my fears once again. I was able to enjoy precious time with my best friend of 31 years and come home safely for Thanksgiving. I refuse to plant my feet on seemingly safe ground while giving in to threats of evil men, or to the lies that try to invade my heart. I choose to keep on trusting God, overpowering my fears by the power of his word and his eternal promise: even if the worst come, I’m never alone.
Patricia Holbrook is a Christian author and national conference speaker. Her first book, “Twelve Inches: Bridging the Gap Between What You Know About God and How You Feel,” is now available on Kindle, and paperback at Barnes and Nobles, Amazon and other retailers. Visit her blog to read her devotionals at www.soaringwithhim.com or email her firstname.lastname@example.org .