And then there was the day that a truck driven fully loaded with weaponry and gun firing on happy, celebrating crowds.
And the celebrating that turned to chaos and pain and terror and loss.
And fear. Always fear.
For fear seems to walk hand in hand with tragedy, especially that which is unexpected.
A fear that strangles the soul, stabs the heart, strips the peace.
A fear that shreds the comfort that sort of had begun to rebuild with little inklings of hope that struggle to find strongholds.
A fear that robs little lives of future freedoms.
A fear that grips all that is good and that feeds off of faith.
Because that is what fear really wants. To sneak into your fortress of faith and lurk inside, waiting and preying upon those little parts of your soul that are vulnerable. To slowly twist its gnarled little fingers around those worries and uncertainties and questions that every single one of us has. And to take over your faith in anything and in anyone, especially in God.
And thus, God fought back. In the absolute best way possible. And won the battle against fear, against anxiety, against evil.
Not because those soul-shaking things won’t continue to happen.
Not because those heart-breaking attacks won’t devastate our world again.
Not because those gut-wrenching, faith-rocking brutalities won’t bring you to your knees time and again.
But because those fears, those evils will NEVER be strong enough to tear God away. Never. Ever.
And this is why…
God stayed. He didn’t leave the world to His angels to handle. He stayed. He didn’t run away when evil and fear sent out tendrils of their cancerous selves into God’s beautiful creations to strip them of their hope and love and faith. He stayed. He didn’t deny His created ones, His children, when they turned away from Him in fear. He stayed. And He came to us.
God came. Jesus, God in human form, walked on this earth. Taken from His position as God to be made lower than even the angels. Jesus even goes so far as to call us His brothers and sisters. God came to us. To become human. To suffer. To be tempted to give in to fear and anxiety. To be almost broken by evil. To die. And to triumph again over evil, over fear, over death.
God freed. When Jesus showed up as our substitute, as our shame, as our sin, as our sacrifice to the fears and doubts and anxieties and evil that we most dread, God as Jesus freed us from those chains. Freed us from being slaves to fear and evil. Freed us from being captives to doubt and worry. Freed us from being tied to death. Jesus willingly took our fears all the way to the cross to free us from the grip it tries to take on our souls.
Hard to believe? No. It’s for real…
“It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. 6 But there is a place where someone has testified:
“What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
a son of man that you care for him?
7 You made them a little lower than the angels;
you crowned them with glory and honor
8 and put everything under their feet.”
In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.12 He says,“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.” 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:5-18)
And not only did God stay. Not only did God come (to us!). Not only did God free us from those things that threaten to pull us away from Him.
God loved. God loves. God is LOVE. Perfect LOVE.
God’s incredible, unwavering, unfailing, perfect LOVE. As much as we might love spouses, children, relatives, friends, and as much as they might love us in return, that love will never be perfect LOVE. For the simple reason that we are not perfect and never will be on this earth.
But God is. God is perfect LOVE. He who created love is LOVE.
Not only did He merely say that He loves us.
Not only did He simply create us as His own children, as brothers and sisters for Jesus.
Not only did He talk LOVE, He walked it.
Not only did He live LOVE, He sacrificed His only Son Jesus to SHOW us His LOVE for us.
Perfect LOVE that paid the ultimate price.
So that we would not be afraid. So that we would not fear death. So that we would know that evil would never win. So that we would not fear so much that we would forget to love.
For it is when we love, imperfectly as we love, God lives. For it is when we love others, God’s love is complete.
One more time – God’s LOVE can only be made complete when we love others, even when we are not loved. God’s LOVE can only be made complete when we love fearlessly. God’s LOVE can only be made complete when we know and rely on and trust in God’s perfect LOVE, and not live in fear of death or with anxiety about evil.
For there is NO FEAR IN LOVE.
If God is LOVE, perfect LOVE, there is no room left for fear.
Don’t believe me? Here’s your proof…
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 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.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” (1 John 4:7-21)