Last week, I wrote about not fearing Covid. Respecting it and doing what you can to reduce your risks of contacting it is not fear. It is common sense.
Fear is rampart these days. People have allowed fear to disrupt their lives, weaken relationships, and alter their daily routines. So how do we deal with such fear, especially when it seems almost warranted?
The Bible has the answer:
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” (1 John 4:18)
Doesn’t this sound good? No fear in love? So, the answer is to love. But it is more than that.
I have some good friends who love their spouses and their children dearly and are still fearful that they will not survive covid. Christian platitudes and slogan sayers claim that that fear is the opposite of faith and therefore these people don’t have enough faith.
I challenge those people to lay next to their wives and listen to them wheezing and coughing as they struggle for their next breath.
Yes, fear is the opposite of faith in part because fear causes us to focus on the problem and not the solution. Yet it is not as easy as some claim. Concern for our loved ones is indeed an opportunity for fear to rule the day. But the Bible says love drives out fear.
So how does this work exactly?
The key word is perfect. Perfect love drives out fear. When the Bible talks about perfection, it usually is referring to God. Only God is perfect. That God is also love is recorded in this same chapter of 1 John. In verse 8 it is written that God is love.
Perfect love in the context of the Bible is complete love. God’s love is complete. And it is when we abide or live in His love that we will have no fear. This is an absolute truth. And as in most cases of absolute truth the problem is in how to apply it.
First, when you are worried or concerned about someone or some situation, pray and listen.
How many times do we pray by rattling off a list of concerns and then get on with our day? It is like visiting a friend and venting about all the things wrong with your life and then leaving. You might feel better, but your friend is left a bit shell shocked.
You can’t shell shock God but you can listen for his response. Listening is just as important to prayers as it is in other forms of communication.
Second, reflect on God’s character.
God is love. God is gracious. God is in control of everything. Place your cares in the context of God’s character. There’s a Veggie Tales song called God is Bigger than the Boogie Man. This is a good reminder of who God is. Our problems, even the biggest ones, are small compared to God.
Third, remind yourself of the times when God saved the day.
Other times in which you had struggles or were scared or sick and then you were healed or the problem was solved. If you don’t have a relationship with Christ or you have trouble coming up with this history, talk to some one who has been through tough times and who can tell you about God’s power and love.
Call a Bible believing church or talk to a Christian chaplain at the hospital. Hebrews 11 is called the faith chapter because it recounts the times in which faith defeated fear and in which God acted on behalf of his people.
Fourth, surround yourself with the love of God.
God is perfect love and it is only his love that can drive out fear. Immerse yourself in the Bible, in focusing on God, and even meet with other believers in Christ, I promise you will be encouraged.
Lastly, lift your eyes to the Lord.
Psalm 121 is a great help for this. It starts with this:
“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121: 1-2)
Let God’s perfect love drive out your fear by living in that love, reminding yourself often about who he is, and talking with him as you would your best friend ever. Love conquers fear every time if you chose love over fear.
Andy Becker is a pastor, retired counsellor and former CEO of a Hospice organization. His book, The Travelers, is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.