In 1 John 4:8b it says, “God is love.” What does God’s love feel like and look like to a believer? 1 John 4:18 says, “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.” “Perfect love casts out fear.” This means that walking in God’s love releases us from a life of fear. This is amazing news!
When I was a child I had an extreme fear of dogs. It didn’t matter if it was a big dog, a little dog, a dog that was happy to see me, or a dog that was growling at me. If it was in the dog family, I was terrified of it. It paralyzed me. One day at after-school daycare, I was walking through the hallway and I saw a table with a sheet of paper on it. It said, “When I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Psalm 56:3. When I read that, I felt as if God showed me that trust in Him could replace my fear of dogs. After that, everytime I went to a place where there was a dog, I would stand still and say that verse in my head over and over. My fear of dogs began to lessen. Do I still have moments when that fear wells up inside of me? Absolutely! But instead of surrendering to that fear, I surrender to trust in a bigger God. This was the beginning of learning how to walk in my true identity: a child of God. A child of God that could trust a BIG, trustworthy God.
We all struggle with fear and anxiety. We are anxious about watching our children become independent. We fear giving up control. We are plagued with panic attacks. While fear is real and valid, fear doesn’t define our identity. In John 16:33 Jesus says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” The word tribulation can also be translated as suffering or trials and sorrow. Experiencing fear and anxiety is a type of suffering in this world. In this verse, Jesus states that we will have suffering, but that doesn’t mean that this suffering will overtake us.
As we walk through inevitable seasons of fear and anxiety, we still have access to the unwavering hope of the God who has overcome the world.
One way to keep our minds focused on living confidently as children of God is by spending time in God’s Word. I keep scripture posted all over my bathroom mirrors so I can be reminded of God’s power and faithfulness to call me His child and protect me as his child. I will even put verses on my phone’s wallpaper so I can see it when I pick up my phone. Keeping God’s Word at the front and center of our lives is one of the best ways to make sure we are allowing God’s power to rule over us rather than allowing the struggles of this broken work to rule over us. Praying (alone and with others) and asking God to remind us of our protected status in Him is a powerful way to keep our focus on God and His desire to keep you and give you an eternal peace and comfort.
You may be stuck in a whole season full of fear and anxiety at the present moment. That’s ok. Don’t feel badly about this. Don’t assume that your faith is lacking. Don’t believe that you’re failing. Allow God to remind you of His love for you. Allow God to remind you in this moment of His protective power. Even in moments when you forget, trust God to remind you of the unwavering hope and strength that is yours through Jesus. In Paul’s letter to the Philippian church, he reminds them that in the face of persecution and suffering, they have cause to trust in the Lord. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This verse indicates that in the midst of persecution of all kinds, God desires to be our refuge. God desires to be the one you can bring all of your thoughts, all of your fears, and all of your feelings to. He says that as you surrender your fear to Him, He will, in turn, guard your heart and mind with a peace that surpasses all earthly understanding. Battling fear with God’s love starts with surrendering that fear to God in prayer and then allowing God to remind you of His protection over you. Now it the time to begin allowing God to remind you of your identity as a child of God.
Here are some additional verses to remind you
1 John 4:18
2 Timothy 1:7