News broke around the world yesterday about the terrorist attacks in Brussels. One comment I saw on social media caught my attention. It was a plea directed toward some of my American friends who live here in Bulgaria urging them to pack up and go home. This got me thinking about why we do not leave in times like this.
The first reason we are not leaving is that we are hundreds of miles away from Brussels. Bulgaria is literally on the other side of the continent. In fact, the bombings in Ankara, Turkey earlier this month were closer to us that the attack in Brussels.
(By the way, don’t feel bad if you didn’t know that Bulgaria is very far away from Brussels. When the Boston marathon bombing happened, I had a European friend who asked if my family in Minnesota was ok. We can’t all be geography experts.)
The second reason we are not leaving is that we have seen things like this happen before. On July 18, 2012 there was a terrorist attack in Burgas, Bulgaria where a suicide bomber blew up a bus full of Israeli tourists.
|Bus in Burgas blown up by Hezbollah on July 18, 2012|
I know that the Paris and Brussels attacks shook up the U.S. because Paris and Brussels are centers of American tourism and commerce where you are far more likely to find an American that Burgas or Ankara. Nevertheless terrorist attacks have happened and keep happening around the world.
Additionally danger exists even outside of the terrorist realm. Here in Sofia, our next-door neighbor’s house was once raided by a police force in the dead of night. Last year there was an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) attack on a mafia boss who used to live just down the block from us. We have even heard gunshots on our street just outside our house. Danger exists, and we are aware of it.
Besides, it's not like moving back to the United States would keep us free from danger. You are statistically far more likely to be murdered in Chicago than you are in Sofia. The world is full of evil people. The only way to escape them completely is to leave the world.
All of this leads to a more serious topic though. It makes me think about the theological implications of fearing for our lives. As a Christian, I believe God is in control. This does not mean that bad things will not happen to me. They do on a daily basis. This does mean that when they do happen, I can have assurance that God will turn them all for good.
The reality is, I am going to die someday. It may be years from now when I’m older than my 92 year-old grandpa, or it could be that death will take me in less than a minute. I will die at exactly the time and place when God wants me to die, and I am ready for it. Nothing can be accomplished by living in fear and attempting to avoid that eventuality.
Now this does not mean I live foolishly. I take precautions. I have a detailed evacuation plan in place for my family and any teammates working with us in Sofia. I also lock my doors at night and am ready in most circumstances to protect myself and my family. I don’t take unnecessary risks like jumping in front of moving cars, and if I see a man with a gun I will move away from him if at all possible.
However, I will not be subject to the fear of death because I trust God--even if I were to die sooner rather than later. Instead, I will live my life for Him, and do his will.
That is the real reason we are not packing up and going home. We trust God, and we recognize that the best place to be is in His will regardless of the danger.