On August 16th, 2017, an article came out that changed much of how people will view Boko Haram’s kidnapping of the Chibok school girls. It is now known that many of the Chibok school girls came together and helped document their time in captivity, together, in Koranic school books they were given by Boko Haram. In it, one humongous revelation was revealed: Boko Haram did not originally come to Chibok Secondary School to kidnap the Chibok girls, but they instead came to steal machine-making supplies (source). It was when they could not find these machine-making materials that they decided to kidnap the Chibok girls—making their kidnap, not a pre-meditated ploy created by a “brilliant” Boko Haram, but rather purely accidental (source).
During their three-year enslavement to Boko Haram, the Chibok girls had a “staunch belief that they would one day go home” (source). Apart from these revelations being proof that the Chibok girls never gave up Hope, it is also a shocking narrative about all of the horrific cruelty they went through. Those who did not convert to Islam were threatened with decapitation, while some of the girls were beaten.
There is one shocking story that sticks out. Naomi Adamu, one of the writers of the journals, claimed that one day, Boko Haram (BH) members brought out jerrycans, supposedly full of petrol, and told those who did not convert to Islam that they would be doused with the petrol and burned. When the girls became terrified, the BH members “cracked into laughter,” as the girls realized there was nothing but water in the jerrycans (source).
Even being faced with possible imminent death, decapitation threats, and murderous violence on a daily basis, it is awe-inspiring to see that so many of these Christian girls from Northern Nigeria did not flinch in their Hope, nor in their commitment to Jesus Christ. There is one thing to thoughtfully note about the story mentioned above: fear is truly a lie.
The Psalms speak about this concept of trusting the Lord, and not giving into fear, many times; one of those times is in Psalm 91.
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.”
(Psalm 91:4-13, NIV)
Whether one’s fears are legitimate and real, or irrational, Jesus doesn’t want us to be afraid of anything. But how can one, when faced with certain death, like the Chibok girls, come through the valley, fearless?
Psalm 91 gives great insight into this. At the beginning of the Psalm, the writer gives a declaration: “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” (Psalm 91:4). In a world where terror and turmoil are so prevalent, God—through the Psalmist—declares that, like a mother hen with her chicks, He longs to cover people with his feathers, and that it is underneath these feathers that people will find real refuge from the threats going on around them. Jesus, in the New Testament, said something similar: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37, NIV). The Truth is this: God, toward the Believer, is not a God of wrath or only of Mighty Power; He is a tender God, longing to lavish His Love upon and protect those who trust in Him alone.
The verses following right after verse 4 show us the outcome of coming to Christ, and trusting Him to be our Refuge. “You will not fear…it [pestilence] will not come near you” (Psalm 91:5-7, NIV). This is a second declaration: Because Christ, in His Tender, Loving-kindness is your Shield, you don’t ever have to be afraid of the things that are threatening to harm you. In trusting Jesus, all dread, worry, and fear is removed.
It is only this mighty, tender Love that Christ, God has for His People that removes all fear (1 John 4:18). As Jesus says in Matthew 23:37, this fear-crushing Love is always available to God’s People, but God will not force people to find refuge in Him. They must decide to do so for themselves.
There is a last declaration in Psalm 91: Those who do decide to run to Jesus for refuge from their fears WILL be victorious over whatever threatens them. As Romans 8:37 gallantly proclaims, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” While, heartbreakingly, for so many, the threat of imminent death for the sake of Jesus does become a reality, it is even in these moments that Christ can make one fearless. Jesus does not guarantee that every circumstance will come out perfectly or without loss… but He does promise that fear does not need to be a part of the equation, and that Perfect Peace and even Joy are attainable by trusting in Him.
In the worst of times, Perfect Peace, Joy, and Comfort is ours to take in Christ. And while we live in this fallen world, there is a greater Hope: that Jesus Christ will one day do away with everything that causes us trauma and turmoil, treading “on the lion and the cobra” (Psalm 91:13).
It is each of these journal entries– documenting pain, loss, and at times, fear—that proves how one can overcome by clinging to Christ’s Love, and never giving up Hope in Him.
satan will come and attack using fear; but, like the Chibok girls who have been rescued, Believers will have the victory in Christ Jesus. As these girls continue to heal, and as some of the other Chibok girls are still not home yet, may Christ be their Refuge and Strength: the One that makes them, in His Love, more than conquerors. “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4, NIV).
Do you know Jesus?
“You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.”
(Psalm 91:13, NIV)
While this verse speaks of eventual victory for the One who trusts in Christ Jesus, it also prophetically speaks of the time when the Messiah, Jesus Christ, defeats satan for good—and, how He has already defeated satan, by dying on the cross for our sins.
As the musician David Crowder sings, “The cross meant to kill is my victory.” Without Jesus Christ, there is no true victory over sin and death. Learn more about who Jesus is, what He did, and how He gave all those who believe in Him true victory, here.
Please pray with me…
“Dear Lord Jesus,
We thank You for what You did on the cross at Calvary. Thank You for dying on the cross for our sin, so that we can have the Victory, Perfect Peace, Comfort, Joy, and everything else we have in You. Dear Jesus, we pray that You would watch over the Chibok girls that are still in captivity; please bring them to You, and give them the Hope that they will one day be freed, too.
Dear Jesus, please help their family and friends, as they struggle with waiting for their Loved Ones to come out of captivity. Please show them Your Faithfulness. May we run to You for refuge Jesus, and not be afraid, even when everything around us tells us to be.
Dear Jesus, please help the Nigerian army, and the Joint Civilian Task Force, as they continue to fight Boko Haram; give them no fear, and help them to come to know You fully. Please help those in traumatic, terrorist situations to trust in You.
In Jesus’ Name we pray,
Thank you for your prayers!!! 🙂
One response to “Finding Refuge: Why We Never Have to Be Afraid”
Great post. I love it.