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Fear No Evil

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” (Psalm 23:4 ESV)That’s how I felt this morning simply filling my car with gas – like I was in the valley of the shadow of death.There is one gas station in Gush Etzion, the region where I live, a mere 15 minutes south of Jerusalem. It’s down the road from where three teenagers where kidnapped and murdered just over a year ago. It’s seconds away from an intersection that has seen more than a few terrorist attacks in the last month.And it just so happens that less than a week ago, a terrorist attack happened right here.My neighbor, Yaelle, witnessed the entire ordeal and probably saved the victim’s life. Just as Yaelle was passing by the gas station, she saw a terrorist lift his hand holding a huge knife and she knew what was coming next. She honked her horn and screamed for help, but before help could arrive, the man had stabbed a young mother deep in the back.Due to Yaelle’s calls for help, the terrorist ran off, and my friend placed the victim, still with the knife in her back, into her car until help arrived. My friend’s daughter was in shock, and she ran screaming and crying past the gas station. The Palestinian workers there smirked and laughed. Was the man now filling my car one of those who stood by and laughed at our agony and suffering?“...I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” (Psalm 23:4 ESV)Later we learned that the victim had experienced a true miracle. Not only was my friend at the right place at the right time to help her, but the doctors announced that had the knife penetrated the victim’s back even a millimeter more to one side, she would have been partially paralyzed for life. Instead, thank God, she is expected to make a complete recovery.I remember that God is with me just as He was with Nirit, the victim of the stabbing whose life was miraculously saved. God — literally — had her back.Yet, as I step out of my car next to the same gas station – there to have protective film placed on the windows of my car to protect against rock-throwing attacks on the roads – I deliberately sling my computer bag over my back to protect myself from behind. We still have to do what we can to protect our lives — as the Jewish sages taught: “We don’t rely on miracles.” But God knows, I sure do pray for them. And I know that God is with me.“You will not fear the terror of night,     nor the arrow that flies by day…” (Psalm 91:5)It will take several hours for the work to be completed on my car windows, so I head over to the nearby café to work while I wait. Usually, when I work from this café, I pray that I can get the table next to the outlet so I can plug in my computer. This time, I simply pray that I will make it to the café in peace. When I enter the café I realize that there was no need to pray for that coveted table; I am the only customer.It seems my neighbors have opted to stay home. Like in a snowstorm, you only go out if you have to. Otherwise, why risk it? Thousands of years ago, in the very mountains where I live now, the Maccabee warriors from the Hanukkah story also feared for their lives. Jewish tradition teaches us that they recited Psalm 91 as they fought against the Greeks. I recite those same words today. I will not fear the terror or the knives or the rocks.“Blessed is the one     who trusts in the LORD…” (Psalm 40:4)As I write about our desperate situation here in Israel – and believe me, it is desperate – Pharrell Williams’ hit song “Happy” is playing in the background. And I realize that in spite of everything going on, I am still happy. Yes, there are times that I am anxious and times that I feel frustrated. Yet, never before have I felt that my life has so much meaning.Filling up my car with gas is an act of great faith. Going to a café is an act of defiance against the enemy. Simply living here in Israel is a service to my people, both of the past, present, and future. While I pray for the conflict to end and I want peace more than anything, I will rejoice in the opportunity to serve the God of Israel – with faith, prayers, perseverance, and thanksgiving.Instead of feeling afraid, I will choose to feel blessed.


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