The events of the last few weeks have been horrific. Bombings in Manchester, shootings in Egypt, knife rampages and vans mowing people down in the streets of London, murder in Melbourne, suicide bombers in Tehran. Attacks are daily all over the world. We are living in an unprecedented age of terror. It’s difficult to know how to process this stuff. And it’s too close to home now to switch off. I found myself questioning whether to attend the annual lights display – the Vivid festival – in Sydney this year on the basis of a sense of safety for my family. I’m actually entertaining a training session with the family about how to spot a terrorism threat. It’s crazy. With a capital “C.” Not that there haven’t been clear and present dangers all around us, all the time. Stories have punctuated my life of horrific atrocities happening in average suburbs nearby, in the local shopping centre, at my local train station. It makes you cautious and guarded. Jesus spoke into these ‘end of days’ we find ourselves living in: “Men will faint from fear and anxiety over what is coming upon the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Luke 21:26) Men will faint from fear and anxiety. That certainly paints a clear picture of what is happening on the earth today. And the focus of popular news is to draw all that fear out, to exploit it to its maximum hysteria, to keep us anxiously waiting for the next shot of bad news to confirm all our greatest fears. This is not how Jesus intended us to live. Jesus concludes His description of end times with this: “When these things begin to happen, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28) Stand up. Lift up your heads. Your redemption is drawing near. Jesus inspires a posture completely the opposite to the natural position in times of terror. He tells us to rise, perceive, have hope and optimism about the future. It reminds me of my hero, Deborah, who lived in times like ours: “In the days of Shamgar, son of Anath,
In the days of Jael,
The highways were deserted,
And the travellers walked along the byways. Village life ceased, it ceased in Israel,
Until I, Deborah, arose,
Arose a mother in Israel.” (Judges 5:6,7) Village life ceased. That’s a lot of fear. The people of Israel could no longer function as thriving, healthy communities. The terror of their day forced them into taking back streets, avoiding crowds, going underground, hiding behind closed doors. They were completely oppressed. Yet, one woman, who gives her only qualification as that of ‘Mother’, chose to rise. To stand up. To lift her head. To see redemption drawing near. She believed that God was bigger than the circumstances of her nation. She believed her God had more power than their enemies. She believed in a God who loved them so much He would provide redemption. And because of her posture, the men rallied. Young men, like Barak, and young women, like Jael, took back their destiny. Days of terror give us an opportunity to demonstrate a posture that defies the natural order of our world. Jesus gives us the faith to know that He is in control. Holy Spirit gives us the courage to meet fear head on! We can be women who stand up in the midst of these fearful days and take back our children’s future. We can be women who carry such a sense of hope and anticipation for the days to come, that our young people begin to embrace their God destiny. We can be girls with guts that lift our heads high and perceive how God is moving around us. Fear might appear to be contagious but so can courage. Let us perceive the days we live in like those who know they are on the winning side. Let’s be a generation of Deborahs whose rally cry is ‘Jesus’, whose message is full of the goodness of God and hope for the future.