Everyday I take a tablet, everyday when I take it I am reminded that I had breast cancer a year or so ago (you can read about it here). As I take the tablet all sorts of nasty thoughts come to mind. “Am I really free from cancer?” “Is this tablet really working”or “Oh no I forgot my tablet, am I going to get cancer again” “Will I get all those side-effects”
In addition to this there are the times when kind-intentioned people ask me “Are you alright ” with a meaningful look as they don’t want to mention the C-word. However I do know what they are talking about and my brain does a loop, “Am I alright now””Don’t I look alright””Maybe they are seeing something I’m not?”
You don’t have to have had cancer to be assaulted with all sorts of fears throughout the day. As a Mum I find I can be fearful about my kids even though they are now adults. For example, they may be travelling in a car driven by a new or young driver and I wait to hear that they have arrived safely etc.
I have learned that I just can’t afford to listen to all these thoughts. If I did my life would be controlled by them. Instead I have decided to trust in the perfect love of God. I can’t control what may happen to me and those I love by giving in to fear and anxiety but what I know is that God is always good and He will never leave me alone to cope with difficult situations.
I like the way The Message puts 1 Jn. 4:18:
God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
The idea that we can take up residence in love rather than fear is helpful. You see I have a choice to make – am I going to listen to those niggling fears and make my home there or am I going to make love my home. I know which I prefer but it is not always so easy.
Often we are taken unawares by a fearful thought, then we feed it by allowing it room, going over and over it in our mind, adding to it a number of what ifs (what if the cancer comes back? etc) and before we know it we are overcome with fear and anxiety.
Some of us try to numb our fears by turning to food, alcohol or drugs. Some of us try to suppress or control our fears by adopting certain behaviours – being busy all the time, working hard, perfectionism. There can be a kind of unspoken bargaining going on. If I do x, y or z, God won’t punish me with the thing I’m afraid of.
NO! NO! NO! None of these remedies will ever deal with our fears.Take a look at that verse again:
“There is no fear in love, but perfectlovecastsoutfear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 Jn. 4:18
The remedy for fear is to know God’s love. At its heart the Bible is a love story. It is the story of God’s love for us, not just as a people but as individuals. We can each know the love of God for us in a tangible way, we can experience it. It is not just a part of the theology of who God is or an abstract concept.
God’s love provides a rock beneath my feet, I am secure in His love. This love means that I do not have to give room to fear. Jesus has already paid the penalty for my punishment so I don’t have to fear that either. Paul asks the rhetorical question:
“If God is for us, who can be against us?”(Rom. 8:31) and goes on to answer himself:
” Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?36 ….. 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
So everyday when I take my anti-cancer tablet I remind myself that none of the things that I worry about can separate me from God’s love. If I make that love my home I have NOTHING to fear and I can live my life free from anxiety.
How about you?
Related Blog: The Valley of the Shadow of Death