The future? Death? Losing your job? Losing your home?
I’ll never forget the year when I sensed God had pulled the rug right out from under my feet. In a span of only 30 days, I lost a job I loved, had to sell my home, the sweet little dog that had been in my home since he was a puppy went to live with my dearest friends who in turn, were moving 2,000 miles away… Oh, and did I mention that it was Christmas? One morning as I was trying to make sense of it all, my daily Bible reading fell upon 1 John 4:18 which reads,
“…perfect love casts out fear.”
Why was I still afraid?
If perfect love casts out fear, why was I still afraid? The answer, I discovered, is rather simple, but disturbing. I must not be experiencing the complete, perfect love of God. Almost immediately, I tried to defend myself. That’s not true! I love God, go to church, tithe, pray, lead a Bible class …
But wait a minute… Did I read the verse correctly? Whose love is the Scripture referring to? Mine or God’s? I read the verse again. “…perfect love casts out fear.” Perfect Love. Only God is perfect. Clearly, the verse is referring to God’s love. And where does the Bible say that God’s love is dependent on us, or our thoughts, or actions? Nowhere.
As a matter of fact, Scripture paints a beautiful picture of this truth in the events surrounding Jesus’s baptism. Before Jesus performed any miracles, before He healed anyone or delivered any memorable public speeches, God the Father publicly declared His love for His Son. Before Jesus began His public ministry, the Father’s Voice tore through the clouds of Heaven,
“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matthew 3:17 NASB)
We Are God’s Beloved Children
God offers the same love to you and me. No more; no less. And just as Jesus had not yet done anything to earn His Father’s love, so it is with each of us. God’s love for us is not dependent upon what we do or don’t do. It is based entirely on Who He is. (Romans 8:28)
And yet, why was I still afraid? That’s when I read the second half of the verse, “If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.” (1 John 4:18 NASB)
Once again, I started to debate in my mind: I’m not afraid of punishment, I’m just afraid I won’t find a job … or a place to live … or … But then I realized something – something that is true for all who call God our Father – if we do not believe God will take care of our basic needs when we know He has the power to do so, we must not be convinced of His perfect love for us. And if He doesn’t love us, we must have done something wrong to cause Him to withhold His blessing.
In other words, we think we are being punished. Oh, how the enemy delights when we fall into the trap of self-condemnation! But praise Jesus, the enemy does not get the last word!
Father, when we face various trials, give us the courage to bring them before Your Throne of Grace. Bring to our minds anything we need to confess that may be hindering us from experiencing the peace of Your Love and Presence. Draw us near and teach us how to trust in Your perfect love – for Your perfect love casts out all fear. Amen.
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Shadia is a passionate Bible teacher, author and speaker who has a heart for seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. She holds a master’s in biblical and theological studies from Western Seminary and is author of several books and Bible studies.