Knowing God Through Love

Open Your Bible

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

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.

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78 thoughts on "Knowing God Through Love"

  1. Michele Tully says:

    I remember when my daughter was a toddler and had really bad croup. I was terrified that she would suffocate and while we waited for her medicine to kick in, I laid her on my chest and played “It is well” on repeat until our heartbeats synced up and she began to breathe normally. It was remembering who was in control through listening to that worship song that pushed fear out.

  2. Tracy Scott says:

    May we always hold up our darkest fears to the brilliant illumination of Jesus our Light.

  3. Allisia Mata says:

    Wow. What a concept. As I think about this I think of the question I have roaming in my mind. How do I love when they don’t want to be loved? How do you simply not fear the rejection and do it because you know it’s right. Maybe the missing piece is allowing myself to hold the fear in the first place. Then holding it to the light letting it create something beautiful. Not perfect but beautiful.

  4. Mylinda Giles says:

  5. Jamie Kavan says:

    “Rest easy
    Have no fear
    I love you perfectly
    Love drives out fear
    I’ll take your burden
    You take My grace
    Rest easy
    In My embrace”
    Rest Easy by Audio Adrenaline

  6. Sam Marlin says:

    I’ve struggled with fear since I was a child. Not feeling safe, especially at night. I’ve spent countless nights wide awake, fearing something happening to my family or to me. Especially about physical safety; an intruder or an accident happening. I’ve wrestled with this truth!! But I have to keep wrestling- God is here, He is the light, He is perfect love.. and there is no fear in perfect love. Thanks for this!❤️

  7. Kirstin Gaschk says:

    Maura,
    I relate. I also woke one night with tight pains in my chest and feared it was the virus. I battled through the night and once i put some worship on my headphones the fear and pain left me. God is so much stronger than our fear. Pray that you will receive His boldness and peace when those fears try to creep back in.

  8. Zipho M says:

    As I was reading this my eye was twitching and as a children we were told that if your eye twitches at the bottom,it means something bad is going to happen and it’s going to make you cry. I thank God for this study today because I recognized a fear that had been engraved in us and would torment you up until that as thing happened. Today I was going to spend my day thinking and trying to figure out that bad that was going to happen. But I thank God today and everyday after this,for reminding me that “There is no fear in love,but love perfect love drives out fear”.