1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
What kinds of things make you afraid? Maybe it’s a medical condition. My son’s cancer created a number of different fears for our family many years ago. Since I hit 50 my body doesn’t work like it used to. That suggest some fears for what the future holds. Maybe it has to do with finances. Few things create fear and anxiety like not being able to pay all the bills. Crime, the weather, relationships, various kinds of critters–all of these have produced fears in us at one time or another.
Why? Doesn’t God love us? John points out, “…fear has to do with punishment.” So much of our fear stems from the idea that God is paying us back for something. Maybe we have something specific in mind. Maybe we can’t think of what we could possibly have done to deserve this kind of treatment. Either way, the idea of punishment is in the background. Maybe we feel that he is actively working against us. Scarier still, maybe we fear that he has simply forsaken us and left us all alone.
Is that true? Would God really treat his children that way? Remember, God is love. There is no fear in love. God’s perfect love for us drives out fear. The reason we struggle with fear is that we have not been made perfect in this love God has for us. We struggle to believe and grasp who he is and what he has promised. This is why we can’t hear about the forgiveness of sins too often. This why we need to spend time in his gospel every day. This is why we need to receive his Supper when we can. When our minds and hearts are constantly barraged with messages of love from God, that builds faith. That drives our fears away. That allows us to look at life from an entirely different point of view, because we are convinced that God loves us.
Consider this, just by way of illustration. If your doctor prescribed some wretched-tasting medicine; if he scheduled an appointment to cut you open in surgery; would you perceive that as a sign that he was mad at you? Of course not! You know that he is in a helping profession. He is trying to make you better, not hurt you. “Love” might seem a little strong to apply to your doctor’s concern for you, but at least you believe he cares.
Isn’t God’s love sometimes like that? He is not punishing us with the things we fear. They may taste bitter, but even when they cut and burn, his love is still active. Better yet, then his love is especially active, helping us and caring for us. Surround yourself with God’s words of love–listen to them, study them, and take them to heart– and you will find that it frees us from fear.