My dogs are afraid of everything: wind, lightning, loud noises, odd noises that they can’t identify, cars, car horns, and the vacuum, to name a few.
“Don’t be afraid. I love you.” I said one day to Miss Bella the Border Collie as I shut off the vacuum. I wondered why I said it that way and then it occurred to me that this is God’s love letter to us.
This basically sums up the Bible in six words. “Don’t be afraid; I love you.”
The most often used phrase in the Bible is a form of “fear not.”
The major message God has for us is this: I love you and I’ll protect you and keep you if you let me. And I love you so much that you don’t have to love me back — but I’ll let you in on a secret: I am going to make all things right again so you’ll never have to shed another tear.
That’s good news, right? God says over and over in the Bible things like “don’t be afraid,” “fear not”, and “do not fear.” In fact, depending on the translation, these words can be found hundreds of times in scripture.
That’s a God of love — not the God of punitive and petty retribution and vengeance that some like to paint Him.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10, NLT)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT)
What does God admonish us to not fear?
Anything. You name it. Don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid of people who think they can hurt you. Don’t be afraid of the future. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Don’t fear bad news or uncertainty. Don’t fear the unknown or diagnoses or weather or war or climate change.
Do not fear; I love you. — God
God is love. And the Bible tells us that perfect love (God’s love) casts out all fear — in other words, there is no room for fear when Love is present. There is the message again: Don’t be afraid; I love you.
I love Aha moments, don’t you? Those moments when something crystalizes for you and becomes evident even though it’s been right in front of your face all along?
It was like the Holy Spirit stopped me in my tracks as I was comforting Bella that day. Why the combination of “don’t be afraid” and “I love you”? I didn’t think about what I was saying. It is just a natural way for me to comfort her.
What’s the antidote to fear?
It’s love. When we understand how encased we are in His love, fear has no place.
“What you focus on, you make room for.” — Dr. Sharnael Wolverton
Focus on God’s love. Don’t focus on the fear. Guess what’s going to grow in your life and guess what will diminish?
There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life — fear of death, fear of judgment — is one not yet fully formed in love. (1 John 4:18, MSG)
Jesus assured his disciples over and over to not be afraid. He tells them not to be afraid when they see him walking on the water and assume he must be some kind of a ghost or spirit.
He asks them why they are afraid when a storm threatens to topple their boat with him in it. He goes further by modeling what not being afraid looks like. He was taking a nap during the storm!
Maybe that’s the ultimate test of our faith over fear — when is the last time you felt relaxed enough in God’s love to rest even in the midst of life’s storms? Usually, that’s the first thing that fear steals from us — our peace. But, remember, love casts out fear!
Love has taken on a squishy connotation. From the Love-Peace-Freedom movement in the ’60s to the mushy-gushy fantasy movies about love, if we are not careful we can start to dismiss love, even disdain it a little.
But love is power. It’s God's power manifested through Christ and the resurrection. How can it be anything else than the power to change the world? Love is what brought Him to the cross. Love is God’s attitude toward you. Love is what the Bible tells us is capable of bearing ALL things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13)
Love is the power we need in our lives daily. Love is, as the famous song reminds us, what the world needs now. It’s what the world has always needed.
We are bombarded with fear everywhere we turn. The news, our social media feeds, the neighborhood watch app, politicians manipulating us to choose them — all based on fear tactics.
Why not turn aside from all that fear and turn toward love?
Read Psalm 91 daily until fear no longer has a place in your life.
Maybe we should all post a sticky note somewhere we’ll see it every day as a reminder from God: Don’t be afraid; I love you.
Maybe we should start telling our friends and family members, “Don’t be afraid; I love you.” when they share with us their anxiety and fear over the latest bad news or uncertainty in their lives. Can you imagine their response? Would they say, “Ya, but…” or would those words stop them in their tracks as they did for me when I spoke them to Bella?
Love is going to conquer all. Fear will diminish love’s power in our lives.
Don’t shortcircuit the power of love in your life.