God’s Love Transformed My Fear-filled Worry into Faith-filled Confidence in Jesus
“Ok I get it, you’re afraid. You are afraid of terrorists, of people shooting your children at school, someone shooting you at the movies, and of stock market crashes. So feel the fear, don’t deny it, but get on with living.” I am not screaming this at the television, I am mentally shouting to the Christians I know. I want to remind them of Jesus’ words:
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God., the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? (Luke 12: 4-7, 25, 26 NIV emphasis is mine)
You may be thinking, who is she to be so critical? I am someone whose life was almost destroyed by the “what ifs”.
When I was in seventh grade, my mother worried over my safety so much, she insisted that I carried mace. By the time I was 20, my mother convinced me that I would be a crime statistic. On the nights my husband traveled, I was certain would be attacked if I slept. I laid in bed, clutching a brass candlestick, and reciting every Bible verse I knew. This was the early 1980’s, there were no cell phones, so when he was late coming home, I concluded that he was dead.
Fear was my constant companion.
I was always aware of God; salvation came to me very naturally in first grade. Active in my church, I chose a career in the church. Although a minister, I did not believe unconditional love, joy or peace were possible before heaven. Studying diligently, I could teach about God’s love, but I did not feel loved.
Satan took all the sermons and examples of God giving peace in the midst of suffering; then rearranged the words to say, “If you trust Jesus, God will make you pay your dues by causing you to suffer”.
God healed my distorted viewpoint.
Once I experienced unconditional love from my husband, I began to feel safe. When I became a mother, I saw God as a loving Father. However, I needed guidance from a Christian psychologist for my heart to heal. Believing the Bible, I stopped trying to earn God’s acceptance. Only then did I feel truly loved Him. He transformed me from someone scared of her shadow into woman who seldom ever worries.
My next developmental task came a few years later. I realized that I did not know how to love God. I began to pray, “Teach me to love you.” One change I made was to stop reading the Bible as a life manual. Instead, I read expecting God to show me Himself. I spent more time listening to God when I prayed. My time in Bible study and prayer was no longer a duty, but an expression of joy. It worked. I fell in love with God.
I now trust God’s character.
I asked, “God make me thirsty for You. He answered my prayer by guiding me to spend more leisure time with Him. Occasionally I would carve out an hour or two without interruption. God and I started “hanging out together”. We might read the Bible, sing through the hymnbook, go for a walk., or sit in silence. Even though I did not feel God’s presence every time, I did it anyway. I stopped trying to control Him.
The goal of my life changed. I desired that God would get glory, so I cared less about whether circumstances in my life were convenient.
“Rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13 NIV emphasis is mine)
When you love someone, you trust him or her. The more I love God, the more I trust him, and the more I trust Him, the less I worry. 1 John 4:18 is true “perfect love does cast out fear.”
Everyone expects me to worry.
To understand the miracle, you need to know that my unmarried daughter lives in a volatile part of the world. She is well trained, and does not take unnecessary risks. My husband and I are often asked, “Why don’t you insist she return home?” or “How can you sleep at night?” I am not naïve. God has not promised me that my daughter will be unharmed. He promises to redeem suffering for my benefit and His glory. In Acts 7, Stephen’s blood serves as a conduit to Paul’s heart. Who am I to tell God how to change the hearts of those my daughter loves?
I am a woman trusting God.
I am also logical. There is no correlation between how much sleep I lose and how safe my daughter will be. The tears I shed in worry will not lessen the tears I would shed should I grieve. If my daughter is harmed, God’s grace will sustain me.
Yes, I miss her. Yes, I weep when I want to touch her and I cannot. Yes, I am disappointed when technology is not working and we cannot text or talk. I am grateful for the times when I can go to her country and for the visits she makes home.
God’s faithfulness, mercy, and unconditional love supply me with peace and joy, regardless of my circumstances. Only God, who delights in me, knows my future. He knows what ultimately benefits my family and me.
You have a choice.
So now you know my story, by choosing to believe the Bible my life was changed. What about you? How can you trust Jesus for salvation from hell, but not trust Him to provide for you to crisis? Is God loving, faithful, gracious, and capable to provide the comfort and wisdom you will need should disaster come? Or do you believe by focusing on the talisman of worry you prevent satan from attacking? Christians, it is time for all of us to trust in God’s unconditional love, God’s power, trust in His plan, trust in His methodology.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5 NIV )