Last week there was a credible threat of a violent attack targeting some of the federal agencies close to the one that I work with. Nearby in Fort Collins an entire campus of federal offices was shut down, forcing hundreds of employees to be turned away from work. As the news broke in my office, very little information was known, and what was known was delivered through a wide variety of different sources. The rumors made quite a swirl throughout the morning – some made it sound like the threat was imminent, and others made it sound fictional.
My own work place was in a different, but related federal facility than the one directly threatened, but everyone that we work with still had to make a decision about what to do for themselves. On the one hand, the threat seemed remote and unrealistic, but on the other hand, our office seemed like it could be a legitimate target. In the interest of playing it safe, dozens of people working in a different branch in the building were sent home. It was a surreal moment as I contemplated how to handle the situation for myself and the team that I manage. It was truly difficult to judge from the information that we had if this was a threat that was credible enough for us to take drastic actions.
Fortunately, nothing significant came from this event, and normal life resumed the following day. But to me, this event was a reminder of how quickly and unexpectedly something serious can occur in the world we live in and trigger panic. As the anniversary of the tragic September 11th attacks approaches this year, I recall what that day was like. It was just like any other day. I went to work for the day, just as I normally did, and by the time I had arrived two jets had crashed into the twin towers in New York City. In that ten minute commute, the world had changed. But it was going to be “just another day.”
The event last week also reminded me of even more important things, which are recorded in God’s Word. As comfortable as we may be in this modern age, a simple catastrophic event, or even a rumor of an event, can strike as quickly and unexpectedly as a bolt of lightning. And so we have been warned, “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4). Even though the day of the Lord will come as a thief, when we may be having an otherwise regular day, it is also something that we have been made aware of far ahead of time. We may be surprised at how unpredictably the events might unfold, but we will not be caught completely off-guard if we pay attention to warnings and watch for the signs of the times, as the Bible instructs.
Even if the events of fulfilled prophecy happen on a day when we have not planned for a catastrophic event to occur, we can rest assured that the instructions that we have in the Bible will successfully guide us. The only thing that we can do is rely on God’s protection. We cannot, and must not, rely on our own wit or strength to protect us. “But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You. For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield” (Psalm 5:11-12). When catastrophe strikes and threatens our safety and well-being, we can and must have faith in God to lead us to safety.
Last week as I contemplated how to respond to a threat of a violent attack, the thought that I need to rely on God—and only God—tempered every fear that I had. I wasn’t sure what judgment was right, but I was unwavering in my confidence that God would offer protection in the time of need.