Love Casts Out Fear of Frightening Things
The world is a frightening place! We are bombarded with fearful things - COVID-19 (coronavirus) spreading worldwide, stock markets tumbling, political uncertainty – and these are just headlines from this past week! This does not even touch on the fears going on in your own life. We all face frightening things on a daily and weekly basis – failure, career uncertainty, illness, suffering, the well-being of our children and loved ones, the loss of friendship, the loss of safety, financial security, doubts, and ultimately death. The world and our lives are full of frightening things! Speaking to her daughters, Abigail Dodds wrote, “I have no idea what the world will be like when you’re grown, but it’s likely that it won’t get less frightening.” So, what are we to do with our fear of this frightening world?
Abide! This is a word that we don’t often use in modern English, but it was a favorite of the Apostle John in both his gospel and his first letter. It means to remain, stay, or reside. In his first letter John says,
“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.” - 1 John 4:13–19
The Holy Spirit is God’s gift of himself to those who trust in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the world. God abides in and with his children as the Holy Spirit unites us to God the Father and God the Son. It is through the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence and transforming power that we come to know and believe God’s love for us through the gift of his Son to die for our sin and reconcile us to God. We no longer fear God’s righteous judgement because Jesus has taken the punishment for our sin and clothed us in his perfect righteousness. Instead, we have confidence to “draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Judgment no longer awaits God’s children – LOVE does! So, we abide with our Father, in our Savior, by our Helper! Love, mercy, grace, and help are our dwelling place!
John makes clear that God is not intent on removing all frightening things – “as he is so also are we in this world.” We follow the footsteps of our Savior – the cross comes before glory. We remain in the world even as we remain in Christ, the one who first loved us. Yet, even in the midst of frightening things God’s perfect love casts out fear. He has taken care of our greatest need by reconciling us to himself. In Christ, our sin is forgiven and the fear of punishment is removed. Whatever hardship, sickness, or frightening thing you face in this world it is now used by God as a means to perfect love in you. God is NOT punishing you! God is in you, God is with you, God is for you, and God loves you!! Do you fear? Abide in this truth! Abide in God, with God, for God’s glory, and love God in return for the great love with which he loves you.
So, what about COVID-19 as it encroaches into our daily lives and our neighborhoods? What about when our 401k crashes 15% in one week? What about when we fail in our jobs or in our parenting? What about when loneliness closes in on us like a dark cloud? Abiding in God does not remove these frightening things. Yet, DO NOT FEAR! Now, in Christ, the frightening things in our life and in our world are no longer to be feared but serve only for our good and God’s glory.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
That is an amazing promise that is often hard to believe. ALL THINGS work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose! Not some things or just the things that are not frightening. ALL THINGS! We know this to be true because God has demonstrated it most powerfully in the cross. Jesus, the Son of God, crucified, dead, and buried - What greater horror could the world imagine?! The very One who “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3) was killed by his own creation. Yet, God used this most horrific event in human history for the greatest good in all of human history. Reconciliation with God is possible for a sinful humanity only because Christ endured God's righteous wrath on the cross taking all of our sin upon himself and giving us his perfect righteousness. If God has the power to transform such a fearful thing for our greatest good then certainly he can do the same with all of the frightening things that we face. Abide in this God, a God of power, love, and grace! He loves you enough to send his Son to save you! His perfect love casts out all fear of frightening things!
– Joshua Moffit
There is virtue in a godly woman’s laughter. Be a woman who can laugh at whatever comes. Let there be a sparkle in your eye that does not fear anything. I have no idea what the world will be like when you’re grown, but it’s likely that it won’t get less frightening. So imitate true godliness by refusing to be frightened by frightening things. Our God is big and strong and absolutely in control. Trust him and laugh.