My life has had some pretty pivotal moments of anxiety and fear and hopelessness. When I turned to God, sometimes he answered my prayers in ways I hoped for, and other times he answered my prayers by walking with me through the pain, grief, and uncertainty.
In this point in time, in our world, we face a lot of uncertainty. I have been here before, on a personal level. Every pregnancy I had was wrought with anxiety and uncertainty. And I had people, well meaning people, tell me that there was nothing to be anxious about. That I needed to get a hold of myself, implying that my anxiety meant that I wasn’t being a good Christian.
At the beginning of this year, I started a study in the book of 1 John. Honestly, I picked the book randomly. The only real requirement was that it was a shorter book because I was going to be reading it in different translations and using the reference verses provided by my Study Bible. In this book, there is a verse that can be a little misused in times of uncertainty and fear.
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 4:18
We are called to love God and love one another. In fact, in the very next paragraph, John says just that. But I think the Perfect Love he is referring to is God. God is not afraid. He is in control and he sees a much bigger picture. And though he doesn’t want us to fear, just like we don’t want our kids to be afraid, he doesn’t discount us when we are.
It reminds me of the story of Gideon in the Old Testament. God told him to go conquer the Midianites (Judges 6-7). And Gideon makes excuse after excuse. He’s afraid. But God remained faithful. God even pared down Gideon’s troops to show who was really the conqueror.
As I started to work on this post, I was reminded of all the times I turned to God. All of them turned out differently. When I gave over the mess of my dating life, God responded with the relationship that would eventually become my marriage to my husband. When I didn’t get the job I thought I would after graduating college, and ended up doing odd jobs just to pay the bills (which didn’t actually cover all my bills), I turned to God, and he connected me to a well-paying, stable job that I loved helping other people. I was even able to continue doing that job when I moved to another state, working from home. Even though I no longer work there, I still think of the people there as my friends and family.
But it didn’t always end up the way I thought it should. I still had my miscarriage and my two stillbirths, even though I pleaded with God for a miracle. But he never left my side, and he revealed so much to me about hope, community, and love, even when I was afraid and anxious.
I guess what I’m saying is, it’s okay if you are afraid about what’s going on in the world right now. It’s okay if you are uncomfortable with uncertainty and aren’t as flexible as other people hoped you would be. But truthfully, God is bigger that other people’s expectations and he’s not about to walk away because of your anxiety. He didn’t walk away from Gideon, or Moses, or Abraham, or Jacob, or Elijah, or Jonah, or Peter, or any number of people in the Bible who were afraid, who may have even said or did the wrong thing because of that fear.
No matter how our circumstances, our lives, our normals may change, God is unchanging. We can put our faith and hope in him. And when we are afraid, he is ready to listen to our anxieties, hold our hand through our panic attacks, and whisper his love in our ear when our fear feels overwhelming. I’m right there with you. I feel it too, but I know that we will get through this together with God leading us every step of the way.