“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).
M-m-m. Interesting. John doesn’t say perfect courage drives out fear. Not even perfect faith. Why does he say perfect love will drive out fear?
First of all, this verse is not talking about fears of financial ruin or life-threatening events. Verse eighteen gives us the context. John is talking about Judgment Day. He’s reminding us that, if we know Jesus, there is nothing to fear when we leave this earth for eternity. Jesus gave his life to save us from the consequences of our sin. Our place in heaven is secure, if our faith is in him.
And once that matter has been settled, other fear-producing questions can be put in proper perspective. We have to remind ourselves that earthly life fades quickly like the leaves (Isaiah 64:6). These questions will cease to matter–questions like:
- Will my job survive the cutbacks?
- Will I be able to keep my health insurance?
- Will my kids make it through their personal crisis?
But such questions can cause torment to the point of ulcers and high blood pressure. If we allow fear to control us, we’re saying that the troubles we face are more powerful than our God.
So here are a few ways to fight against fear:
- Rename your difficulties as possibilities—possibilities for God to do something glorious. Without a problem, there’s no opportunity for a miracle.
- Picture God Almighty accompanying you all day long. He’s standing right behind you at the sink. He’s sitting beside you in the car. His ever-watchful eye is upon you, his infinite strength is available to you, and his perfect wisdom will guide you.
- Don’t feed your fear with worry; feed your faith with the truth of God’s Word. Psalm 23 is a perfect place to begin. Remember verse four? “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
- Listen to what he says: “I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you (Isaiah 41:13). Visualize God holding you by the hand as you walk through each day.
Years ago, when a I was a young teenager, my family visited Lookout Mountain in Tennessee. Dad and I were hiking over the mountain paths when we came to a deep, narrow ravine. He easily jumped across, turned, and held out his hand for me.
“I can do it myself,” I announced confidently. Then I looked down into that deep ravine. What if I fall? I thought. Grinning sheepishly at Dad, I said, “’Guess you’d better help me after all!” I had great confidence in my father. I knew he loved me and would never let me fall.
God is ready to walk hand-in-hand with me along the mountain paths of life. Problems arise, though, when I repeat that moment on Lookout Mountain and focus on the ravine, the what-ifs. The result? I’m frozen with fear.
How downright foolish of me, when my loving, trustworthy Heavenly Father has assured me:
“Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you” (Isaiah 41:10, The Message).
You see, perfect love drives out fear because we can trust the perfect love of our perfect God.
(art & photo credits: www.gracevine.com; http://www.visualphotos.com)