Do you fear anything? When I was little, it may have been monsters under the bed or in the closet, but today, I fear bigger things like life-altering health problems or massive bills (although those two can sometimes be related).
Do you worry? I’m pretty good at that. I worry about work, my kids, retirement, government, and all manner of other things, it seems.
I don’t know what you worry about or fear. Maybe you have mastered the command of Jesus in Matthew 6:25, and you don’t worry. Maybe you are fearless, or at least present that impression to the world. However, I suspect that there are at least one or two things that eat at you. If so, welcome to the human race!
When we struggle with fear or worry, though, it is important to have someone who can help us through those times. In my marriage, my wife and I seem to worry about different things. (That’s probably a gift from God, so that we’re not both panicked about the same thing at the same time.) It could be a friend or family member, who encourages us to look on the bright side of things. Sometimes, knowing that another person will continue to love us despite our fears is what we need. (Hint, whether or not you have – or need – someone like that in your life right now, there are almost certainly others who need that support from you.)
Still, other people can only do so much. Sometimes we really need the kind of peace that we find below: peace that “exceeds anything we can understand”.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 NLT
Powers of evil would like to keep us away from this peace, though. Knowing the corrosive effects that fear and worry have on us, the more that we can be distracted or blocked from enjoying the peace of God (because of time spent in fear and worry), the more unhealthy and less effective we become.
And, isn’t one of their evil techniques to tell us that what God says isn’t true? After all, that was the first lie of Satan recorded in the Bible (see Genesis 3:4-5). When a human being – whether you, me, or anyone else – believes that God doesn’t love them, then fear, worry, hopelessness, and a struggle to find purpose are the natural result.
In His amazing love, though, God spelled out the truth: that things – even very powerful things – cannot and do not separate us from His love. If you haven’t memorized the following verse, I encourage you to do so, in order to keep this important point in the forefront of your mind when doubts and troubles encroach upon you:
And I am convinced that 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—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
Romans 8:38 NLT
Nothing. Nada. Nil. Zip. Zero. Zilch.
- Are you concerned that your past choices have separated you from God’s love?
- Do you fear that your current circumstances are an indication that God doesn’t love you?
- Do you worry that God won’t love you in the future (or for eternity)?
- Does the prospect of meeting God for eternity bring you fear, because you think that He isn’t a God of love (along with His justice, as part of His holiness)?
- Are current events – especially those that show the power of evil – causing you to doubt the love of God?
The verse above tells us clearly that none of these things take us away from God’s love. God’s love is far bigger than these comparatively minor events. To be sure, many of these other things are serious matters, and – without Jesus Christ – both our sins and those of others have the power to separate us eternally from God’s presence (which is why salvation through Jesus Christ is so important). However, for us to dwell on worry and fear is a sign that we (myself included) underestimate either God’s power or God’s love. When we begin to appreciate both of those attributes of God, fear and worry have no place in our lives anymore. (However, for most of us, building our faith is a lifelong pursuit, so I’m not going to condemn you for falling short on this. Instead, I encourage you to keep cultivating your faith: looking around yourself for God’s faithfulness and love, and remembering both.)
After all, a god who has love but no power can’t act upon that love, and a god that has power but no love is a tyrant. Praise be to God that He is a God of both love and power!
Or, maybe you have fallen to the temptation (I have) that nothing external can separate us from God, but maybe we can do something ourselves – e.g., “sin badly enough” – to lose that privilege. For those in that situation, Romans 5:8 (a few chapters before the one above) refutes that: God loved us enough to send Jesus for sinners. Do you think that your sin separates you from the love of God? Well, sin in general separates us from God’s holiness, but God’s love still made a way, reaching out to us in our sinful state. Jesus died – once for all (see Hebrews chapters 7, 9, and 10, as well as 1 Peter 3:18) – to take care of our sins, if we accept that gift and turn our lives over to Him.
So, lock these verses in your memory, and remember them when worry and fear try to take over your focus. When we understand God’s love and God’s power, we find that our fears and worries are powerless and pointless (even if they continue to frustrate us).
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.