But Are You Safe?

by Rachel Pieh Jones on January 18, 2016

but are you safe

ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab

Civil war

Typhoid, malaria, Ebola, cholera, tuberculosis

Airplane crashes, car accidents


Floods, earthquakes, tsunamis


Human trafficking, kidnapping



I’m not trying to scare you, I’m simply listing the things that go on around the world that we could be afraid of and this is only a miniscule portion of all that could go wrong. And, this is simply the dramatic. What about cancer, mental health struggles, addiction…?

The other day a group of Americans asked me if I feel safe. I said, “The country where I live is pretty safe, there is very little crime. We’ve been robbed a few times but, yeah, its safe.”

They laughed and laughed, as they should have. My answer didn’t make much sense. It was also true. There is very little crime, compared to other capital cities. And, we have been robbed 18 times in 12 years, though one of those times was in Minnesota and another was in Turkey and another was in Kenya and another was in Somalia. Meaning, crime happens everywhere.

I should have said, “We’ve been robbed a few times but, yeah, I feel safe.”

Or, “I feel safe enough.”

Safe enough to live and breathe and work and buy groceries and send my daughter to school on her bike, alone. Safe enough to make friendships and settle in a home and be alone while my husband travels. Safe enough.

Until we’re not safe anymore.

Something could happen at any moment. Something could happen in the US at any moment. None of us are ever, truly, safe if by safe we mean free from the risk of anything interrupting life as we know it. On the other hand, anyone who has confidence in their eternal destination is utterly, perfectly, always safe.

So what is it? Safe or not safe?

Was Jonah safe in the belly of the whale? Was Daniel safe in the lion’s den? Was Paul safe as he faced the arena? Was Jesus safe as he carried the cross to Golgotha?

Absolutely not.

Jonah was being digested, his skin burned, eyes blinded by acid and utter darkness. Daniel was about to be devoured by beasts, and Paul too, torn limb from limb. Jesus was marching toward certain torture and death.

But were they safe?


Jonah was right where God wanted him to be. Daniel was right where God wanted him to be. Paul was right where God wanted him to be. Jesus was right where God wanted him to be. They were all surrounded completely by the tender hands of a loving Father who had a plan. The plan would end in miraculous survival for Jonah and Daniel, in death for Paul, and in death and resurrection for Jesus. And all of them were safe. If safe means being where God wanted them to be. And if, when we say safe, we mean filled with the hope of eternity and resurrection no matter what happens in this life.

We are never promised freedom from pain, danger, or suffering. But we are promised that we will be held when walking through the valley of the shadow of death. And that is what safe means. This isn’t easy. So many times I wish it meant something else – no grief, no tears, no loss or heartbreak. But I don’t get to decide and so I will lean into those strong, wise hands and cry and pray and trust that He knows what is safe for me and the people I love.

Do you feel safe? Do people ask this about your life abroad? How do you respond?

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About Rachel Pieh Jones

Rachel was raised in the Christian west and said, ‘you betcha’ and ate Jell-O salads, she now lives in the Muslim east, says ‘insha Allah,’ and eats samosas. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Family Fun, Running Times, and more, and she blogs for Brain Child and Babble.

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