The fear grew in my gut with the pending darkness, any semblance of peace fleeing as the sun set outside my window. Something about the nighttime hours seemed to grow my fear, like the monster in my childhood closet. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t stop pacing or calm my racing heart.
Two weeks before, I’d been diagnosed with cancer for the first time. The doctors still didn’t know the full extent of its spread, nor how to best treat it. And while they struggled to find solutions, I was left in limbo.
This particular night felt worse than the others. I tried praying, reading, watching TV. Even the normal distractions of making dinner and doing dishes didn’t do a thing to settle my spirit. The fear was unbearable, all the pending unknowns about my future intruding on every thought.
Not wanting my anxiety to cause my children alarm, I snuck upstairs to the isolation of my bedroom. That’s where my husband found me, crying yet one more time, inconsolable.
He sat next to me on our bed, no doubt struggling with how to help me walk through this new reality. He’s a man of few words, but this night he looked me in the eye and said quietly and without judgment:
“If you really believe what you say you believe, Michele, it will only get better for you from here.”
I said nothing in response. What could I say? He was right, unequivocally correct. Sure, life might get more difficult, the challenges more painful. But if I really believed in a God who loved me enough to send Jesus to save me, a God who promised He is currently preparing a place for me with Him forever, a God who said this earthly life is but the faintest shadow of the glory that awaits me in His presence, then no matter what happened, the best was yet to come.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:8 (NIV)
John wrote those words, long after the Jesus he loved died, rose, and ascended to heaven. Most of his friends and fellow disciples had been martyred. And he himself had faced more hardship than you or I can imagine. Perhaps that’s why his words ring deep and true. Because he knew the only truth that can drive out fear is the unwavering, unending truth of the One True Love. Fear doubts that Love will win in the end.
Although my fear was valid, it spoke of the truth that I didn’t yet fully believe in a saving Love, a love that wouldn’t let death get the last word on my life. Thankfully, because of the truth of my husband’s words and the mercy of a God who woos me still, that night was the beginning of the end of my fear. It would never go away completely, and I still have days when the fear creeps in and threatens my peace. But it no longer holds the power it once did.
Instead, Love does. Love is the defining force of my life. Not the love of my husband and children or the love I have for them. But a bigger Love, the Love of a God who sees all, knows all, and promised to love me anyway.
Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
Mark 5:36 (NIV)
Perfect love drives out fear.
Don’t be afraid; just believe.
Ultimately, love — true love — believes. And that means, ultimately, it comes down to a choice. What will we love most? If we most love this life and our comfort in it, then we have every reason to be afraid. To be human is terrifying. There is so little we can control, so much we can’t predict, so much we can lose. But if what we love most is God himself, then we already have everything we most desire.
And that’s a love we cannot lose.
Don’t be afraid, sister. He loves you more than you know, and it will only get better for you from here — believe!Leave a Comment