Dread, anxiety and worry are a few of the synonyms listed alongside the word fear. And all three are probably emotions and feelings we are familiar with and have experienced. Fear is probably the most common emotion all humans have shared. It can sometimes invade our lives in thrashing waves or quiet whispers; whichever way it enters it can stop us from living that life of abundance God dearly wants us to have.
Walking with Christ does not suddenly make you exempt from life’s perils and difficulties. Experiencing some of the loss and lack that can happen in life is not an indication of the level of faith we have. Jesus was fully aware of the many situations that are accompanied with fear and dread. But ultimately, in the midst of these anxieties we may encounter - He comes to the beautiful conclusion in John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
There are no promises of a picture-perfect Instagram-like life, but an assurance of peace is at hand. Believers must remind themselves and each other of this important fact. The real battle is often finding and keeping our righteous peace of mind rather than avoiding situations that that can fill us with dismay. The Lord knew that this would be a daily battle and that is probably why phrases like ‘fear not’ and ‘do no not be afraid’ appear in the Bible approximately 365 times. Often this is followed by the Lord giving His assurance that He is with you, like in Joshua 1:9;
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”.
God’s answer to fear is Him. Contrary to popular belief Love is what dispels fear, we don’t need to level up our faith game or add more ‘duties’ to our list. We simply need Love and Perfect Love at that:
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear”
(1 John 4:18)
Perfect Love is complete, all consuming, with no traces of doubt in the power of the Holy One. Perfect Love is delicately soothing yet violently passionate and never stops working on your behalf. We need to remind ourselves daily of this Perfect Love that we have with us. Our biggest responsibility is to guard this truth. Set yourself a daily reminder, put pictures around your room, filter what enters your eyes and ears - do whatever it costs to remember that God is Love and nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.
...Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow"
Fear can be contagious and crippling at times, so it is a good thing that Perfect Love is not passive but a fully active verb. Perfect Love does not politely ask fear to be excused, when it comes to fear it can often be overwhelming and reckless in casting it out - it fights for your sound mind at all costs. And because God is in us, we can pass this Love on to others. Perfect Love is not boastful about our journey to overcome but it seeks to encourage instead. It is not brash or overbearing, throwing around unconsidered comments to get tougher skin or ‘man-up’; Perfect love choses to protect and persevere and be that soft place to feel yet instil in you the power to fight. Your approach to dealing with someone who is in the middle of a battle with fear should come from the overflow of God’s perfected love in you.
The feelings of fear often stem from past experiences that have left a negative impact on us. Whether it’s the fear of failure or being accepted, I would encourage you to unpack those feelings and trace them back to the root. It is at this core that Perfect Love is needed the most. Because although we may feel the fear, it is not ours to own and embrace as God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). May the Love in you be forever perfected and your daily power to overcome fear never be wilted.
Words by Dorcas Payne