How did you communicate your love on Valentine’s Day? Candy conversation hearts? Poetic greeting cards? Chocolates and roses? A fancy dining experience? Simple acts of kindness? Intimate whispers in the bedroom?
There are countless ways to express your affection. Love takes many forms, but one of the best things about love is that it removes fear. In Scripture, 1 John 4:18 tells us “There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives fear away.” God Who is ‘Perfect Love’ is able to set you free from fear because He is altogether trustworthy, and there is no power on earth greater than He is.
The Bible can be considered a love letter that God wrote for you to come to know Him and His unfailing, lavish love for you. It tells the story of the greatest and truest love of all time — God’s love — and His love alone has the power to transform you so that you become who God created you to be. Bold. Confident. Fearless. Kind. Merciful. Truthful. Forgiving. Loving. In essence, Christlike in every way.
God’s Word is also full of love stories. Some romantic, some familial, some spiritual. We can learn from those narratives how to overcome our own dread and anxiety through the most powerful force in the universe: God’s love.
Let’s take a closer look at a few of those stories and see how we can use the power of His love, God’s great gift to us, to conquer our fears.
Sarah: Love and Laughter
God had promised to bless Abraham and his wife Sarah with children—to give them more descendants than there are stars in the sky or grains of sand at the seashore. By the time they hit old age—100 and 90 years old, respectively—they had been abundantly blessed with silver and gold, much livestock, and many servants, however….they still didn’t have their heart’s desire: they had no child of their own.
When Sarah overheard three strangers (she didn’t realize they were likely angelic beings—one most likely the preincarnate Chris!) telling her husband Abraham that she would give birth to a son in a year, Sarah laughed. She knew she was way beyond childbearing years, and as it says in Genesis 18:11 (ESV), ‘the way of women had ceased to be with Sarah’. She must’ve thought, “That’s totally impossible!” No doubt she’d experienced many tearful nights over the years, overcome by the distress that she couldn’t have a baby, especially in a culture where a woman’s status was defined by her childbearing. I don’t think any of us would’ve blamed her if she’d lashed out in anger thinking they were telling a cruel joke.
But instead, Sarah laughed.
It seemed absurd, even comical, that a 90-year-old woman could bear a child. But rather than let indignation from her past sorrow or fear of the future control her reaction, Sarah just laughed. And when her son was born a year later, she was still so full of joy that she named him Isaac, the word for laughter in Hebrew. Having a child named Laughter was a continual reminder to both Sarah and Abraham that God loved them, that He was a faithful promise-keeper Who would honor every other promise He’d made to them as well, and that He could be trusted for everything that concerned them.
Ruth: Love and Friendship
Their husbands had died. They were alone. Broke. For two women in ancient times, life was about as bleak and miserable as it could get.
But Ruth refused to allow hopelessness and fear of the future to deter her.
Instead of choosing to succumb to anxiety over their circumstances, Ruth chose to love. Her compassion and commitment to stay with her mother-in-law influenced the choices she made in the days, weeks, and years after their losses. For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.” Ruth promised to Naomi. Ruth 1: 16 (NKJV)
Ruth left her home country and everything with which she was familiar to follow Naomi to a foreign land where she would be considered a second-class citizen. Once they arrived in Naomi’s home country of Israel, Ruth further demonstrated her love for Naomi by humbling herself and willingly going to work in the fields to glean food for them to eat. She further demonstrated her love for Naomi by readily and willingly obeying her mother-in-law’s instructions regarding how to interact with Boaz, the owner of the field where she went to work. God rewarded Ruth’s loving actions by providing her not only with Boaz as her ‘kinsman redeemer’ husband, He also gave her the gift of a son Obed. Unbeknownst to her at that time, Obed would become the grandfather of King David, whom God described as being “a man after My own heart”, and is one of the most beloved characters in the bible. (Acts 13:22) In addition, God rewarded Ruth’s love and faithfulness to Naomi by giving her the privilege of being included in the lineage of Jesus. No doubt, Ruth was transformed by the love of Naomi’s God, whom she had made her own, and worshiped as the one and only true God.
Esther: Love and Courage
The story of Queen Esther is not the fluttery love story some people think it is. It’s not a romantic yarn about a poor peasant girl falling head over heels for a king and becoming a fairy tale queen. Not even close.
The truth is that the book of Esther in the Bible is about a sex slave who God elevated to the status of queen so that He could use her to save His chosen people. It was Esther’s love for her guardian Mordecai, her love for her fellow Jews, and we can also assume her love for and trust in God too, that enabled her to conquer her fear of death. Her fear was not based upon a vain imagination, but based upon the reality that by approaching the King’s throne without his summoning her, he might choose to put her to death.
Since Esther knew that her life was at stake, she wisely turned to God–the One Who is ‘Perfect Love’– for His help. She herself not only fasted for three days, but she asked Mordecai and the other Jews of her city and the women in her court to join her in the fast as well. She looked to God for direction in the midst of her dire circumstances, and He directed her steps and gave her a successful strategy for approaching the King. Esther’s loving, obedient, courageous heart made her the ideal candidate for God to use as His chosen instrument to save thousands upon thousands of Jewish men, women and children from certain death. Those who were saved by her heroic actions were reminded of God’s unfailing love for them that miraculously delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and their descendants are reminded of Esther’s courageous role in God’s salvation plan, as well as God’s mighty love and power, every year when they celebrate Purim.
Mary: Love and Grace
She was just a teenager when an angel spoke to her. His first words to her were, “Do not be afraid, Mary.” (Luke 1:30 ESV)
“You’re the one, Mary, the one chosen by God to give birth to His beloved son” the angel of God told her (those were not the exact words he used, but that was the upshot of it).
Mary was the one chosen by God to give birth to the long awaited Messiah, Who would be not only her son, but also God’s son. God born in human form, taking on flesh and blood. Mary would have the privilege of birthing and then raising the only divine and perfect being born of a woman. Talk about being given an enormous responsibility for which you would feel totally unfit!
She had plenty to be fearful about even before beginning the daunting task of raising God’s only son. I’m sure it occurred to her after the angel of God left her: “What will my parents think? Will they be ashamed of my condition? Sexual purity was required by the Jewish law, and she was betrothed but not yet married to Joseph. It may have flashed through her mind whether her fiance, Joseph, would abandon her since he would know it wasn’t his child and would likely doubt her faithfulness to him. She may have feared the ridicule and even disdain she likely would face from the gossips in her town. She would be an unwed mother whose child was of questionable origin in a culture that stoned to death those who had sexual relations outside of marriage. Her life could literally be on the line because of the news that had been given to her by the angel. These are only a few of the fears she might have harbored and she could have allowed them to grow in her heart.
But instead of focusing upon those fears, Mary chose to trust in God and His love. “I believe,” she said, and embraced her God-given destiny with humility and grace.
Mary took great care of the son God had entrusted to her–she loved him dearly, and she followed Him — even when His path led to the cross where she wept and her heart broke as He laid down His life to pay the price for her sin, as well as the price for your sin and mine. She knew firsthand and very well that there is a cost associated with true love, and although it always requires a sacrifice, it is love alone that redeems and transforms us.
The Bible: God’s ‘Valentine’ to You
These stories, and many more, beautifully illustrate the power of love in desperate and uncertain circumstances. The characters of the Bible encountered plenty of reasons to succumb to fear and anxiety in their lives. But whenever they chose to face those fears with faith in God and belief in His love for them, their lives–and consequently the lives of others as well– were blessed.
Today is a perfect time to reflect on what love is really all about. There’s nothing wrong with chocolate hearts and flowers and roses, but love — real love — although it costs far more than any tangible gift you may give or receive, also provides so much more…and it lasts for all eternity. Don’t miss out on the love God has in His heart for you, and longs for you to receive from Him. Ask Him to give you the faith to fully embrace the immeasurable love He has for you! (Ephesians 3:14-19) The realization and acceptance of His lavish, unfailing love for you is truly the greatest gift you’ll ever receive. It’ll change not only you, but as His love flows through you, it’ll also change those around you too. You can take His Word on that.
Show someone how much you love them by encouraging them to conquer fear with love. Give that special someone the Faith Your Fear Scripture and Prayer Cards from True View Ministries. They’re the perfect gift to help anyone combat worry and anxiety in their life.