Day 8

Knowing God Through Love

from the 1, 2 & 3 John reading plan

1 John 4:1-19, Psalm 36:1-12, John 15:18-21, 1 Peter 2:1-3

BY Kaitlin Wernet

It happened every night, first at 1:27 a.m. and then again at 4:02 a.m.. A low warning whistle would signal its arrival, followed by a roaring screech that thundered through our sleeping city, only waking me. Its rumble traveled from a cracked window to the front door to my bedpost, then disappeared as quickly as it came.

That train on nearby tracks opened my eyes to the darkness. I’d seen the sky turn black before going to bed, of course, but I hadn’t felt it. Suddenly, I was hyper aware that at any moment, my safe foundation could be shaken and destroyed. There, in my bed with white sheets and a black headboard, I began a countdown to sunrise, staying awake to prevent the darkness from swallowing me.

Each morning, I’d attribute my sleepy eyes to the train, but each night, I’d remember it was fear.

I began recognizing minor details as “warning” signs—ambulance sirens, missed calls, late arrivals—and became sure something dubious was headed my way. I didn’t know what that something was, but I knew its tracks were headed in my direction.

Fear is ominous and undefined in both feeling and concept. There are times I know exactly what I’m afraid of, and others when I’m just plain afraid. Many nights, I’d sit up on those white bed sheets, Bible open on my lap, wrestling with anxiety. Over and over again, I ran into the same command: Do not fear. It appears generously throughout God’s Word, yet I’d never come across a concrete definition of “fear” by itself. But what reason do we have to not fear? When the walls begin to shake and the darkness closes in, how exactly do we just “not fear”?

When the train began to rumble into town, I wasn’t sure how to put the brakes on my fear—but I knew I could turn on the lights. Reaching over to turn on the lamp on my bedside table somehow illuminated my confidence enough to step out of bed and look outside. From my window, the street lights glowed and the train’s headlights shone in the darkness. I wonder if this is why fear isn’t clearly defined in the Bible, because it cannot stand alone. To really know it, we must turn on the lights.

And in this case, when it comes to our fears, it is by His light, by knowing Him, that we are really able to see and make sense of what’s around us (Psalm 36:9). To know Him, we must remember His love; He Himself is love (1John 4:16). And when we know His love, we know what it is not: fear. Because “there is no fear in love… perfect love drives out fear” (v.18, emphasis mine).

I’ve always read that verse in the context of my loving relationships, but what if we could also believe it in the context of our worst fears? If God is love, and there is no fear in love, then there is no fear in God. And because we are from God, He leaves the lights on for us. Held to the standard of God’s perfect love, fears don’t stand a chance. Maybe trying not to fear isn’t so impossible if it sends us searching for the light (John 8:12). May we always hold up pieces of darkness to the brilliance of His love.

Post Comments (78)

78 thoughts on "Knowing God Through Love"

  1. Traci Gendron says:

    Loving God & loving others is the key to becoming more like Jesus. I pray that God will help me open my heart to those that I have turned away from. I find it hard to love those that are different in minor & extreme ways. Which doesn’t make me very Christ like.

  2. Elizabeth McKinney says:

    Thank you Churchmouse! I needed that this morning. Blessings on a wonderful day Sisters!

  3. Kaila Smith Ramesh says:

    I have struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. Usually there is no apparent cause. Everything will be going just fine then suddenly my heart begins racing, beating so hard that it feels like my chest is going to explode. I do have medical problems that cause my heart to race and the rhythm to be off, and I think most of the time this is what starts the anxiety and panic attacks. When this happens I try to go somewhere so that I can be alone with The Lord and just talk to Him, listen, and try to get my body back into a normal rhythm.

    I’m super thankful that I haven’t felt scared about this virus. I used to worry a lot, but through God’s Word, I finally realized that worrying about anything isn’t going to change it. At least not for the better. I’m not saying that I’m carefree, but He has given me peace about this virus and I’m so thankful for that.

    God bless all of you!

  4. Angelica Ging says:

    “Fear Not For I Am With You Says the Lord”
    I remember singing this verse in Sunday school and it has stuck with me ever since. It’s His hidden truth hidden in my heart that I find my childlike self cling to when I feel fear creep in. It goes so well with today’s verse “perfect love casts out fear.” During these uncertain times I can’t help but feel comforted by the Spirit that our Father up in Heaven has not forgotten us but remembers us and is constant.

  5. Jenna says:

    There’s that saying that says “where attention goes, energy flows.” When I’m feeling anxious, it’s often helpful for me to consider what I’m magnifying in that moment. Is it my fears or what I know to be true of God’s character?

    There are no easy fixes for anxiety and I don’t think it’s a sign of spiritual weakness to wrestle with fear. God, in his grace, gives us spiritual tools and medical resources to help us in our need. I think the Lord saves some of His best promises in Scripture for fearful people and we have the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s truth to us in those moments.

    A verse that has meant a lot to me during this time is from Nahum 1:7: “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.”

    1. Alicia Mason says:

      Wonderful words!

    2. Alyssa Myers says:

      Love this… thank you for sharing!

  6. J. Alison says:

    Thank you so much for this reflection. I think we all need it so much right now. I will hold fast to today’s verses and your words.

  7. Ashley White says:


  8. Diana Fleenor says:

    As I consider the concept of fear, I am grateful for the teachings from a number of sources which have help ground me in the understanding that there is “good fear” and “bad fear”. The fear of the Lord is said to be “a delight” of the one who is our Messiah, the Lord Jesus (Isaiah 11:3). The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom as stated in a number of places in Proverbs. The passage in Psalm 36 describes the depth of sin of those who have “no fear of God before his eyes.” The warnings to be aware of false prophets who deny Christ’s humanity and deity seem to intend to stir up a kind of alertness that may have a kind of feeling of fear in it. And how do fear and hatred of the sin Peter tells us to put away connect? Jude seems to connect these concepts, along with mercy, when he speaks about those who are sinning, saying, “to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 1:23).

    Yet, over and over again, we are told to “not fear”. But what is the object of those “not fear” instructions. Today’s message highlights the most needed truth: We who are in Christ Jesus are not to fear condemnation because he has taken on the penalty that we would have to pay ourselves if he hadn’t. What a relief from the greatest fear any of us could have! I’m thankful to the Lord for his amazing grace!

    1. Kat Cowell says:

      Thank you Diana for these thoughts and references! It’s so helpful to stop and think through the different types of fear in the Bible as you have done, and to ultimately remember that the fear of condemnation is no longer to be a reality for those who have taken refuge in Christ. What a wonderful word of truth!

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