On Fear and Anxiety: What You Need to Know When You Come to a Wall
I was talking to a friend the other day who is helping a Christian woman through a bout with depression. She knew that I was a similar age when I went through the “dark night” twenty years ago. My friend explained concerning her friend, “There is a wall she just can’t seem to get past.”
That conversation took me back to a wall I came upon when I was trying to claw my way back into the “land of the living.” After months and months of suffering, I was committed to the process, but the counseling sessions helping me along were hard. There was resistance and it was from within.
One afternoon, the question was posed to me, “Dea, do you believe God loves you?” I swallowed and felt a lump form in my stomach, an anxiety reaction that I was all too familiar with.
“I know God loves others,” I replied with somber flatness.
“Would you consider today that God loves you---you in the middle of your pain, you whose life has taken this turn, you who find it easier to love others than to love yourself? Just try to say it, ‘God loves me.’”
I considered what he was saying and took him up on the prompt.
“God loves me. He loves me. Me. God loves me.”
It was a moment in time I’ll never forget. And it is a moment that changed the trajectory of my recovery and my life. In all I had gone through, had I ever been separated from God's love?
I had not.
Romans 8: 37-39 isn’t just an eloquent accounting of God’s commitment to love his children. Its truth is foundational to living in the world free from fear and anxiety.
“But in all things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Yes, some things seem to threaten to separate us from God’s love. We know that all too well, but when we understand how God's love rests on his love for Jesus, we are assured that nothing---absolutely nothing---can separate us from his love.
Paul begins with death because death is the place of our greatest fear---our fear of being separated, lost, and forgotten. We are helpless against death except for Jesus. When death raises its ugly head, we tremble until we grab hold of God’s love in the crucified and resurrected Jesus.
But not only death, but life also threatens with its demands and distractions, it's baubles and illusions. The lusts of the world tempt; yet, even in life, God’s love is steadfast.
The principalities?? Conquered!!
The present with its troubles and grief and the future with its uncertainties, all that comes against us in time cannot separate from the love of the eternal God. In God's arsenal, time is a tool not a weapon. He sees it that way and we should too.
Even power is not powerful enough to overcome God’s love. Men bent on Jesus' destruction thought they could banish His love through death, but He rose from the grave proving them wrong.
There are problems, distresses, concerns, and sicknesses that seem overwhelming in their scope. They seem to be higher, deeper, and more crafty than other living things. A rogue cancer cell threatens a body; a rogue virus threatens the world. These tempt to overwhelm God’s love through death, pain, and suffering. Cancer nor COVID can separate us from the love of God.
God’s conquering love depends not on our circumstances or our emotional stability, but wholly on the character of God. He has the power to love his own to the uttermost. This is covenant love, a committed love---steadfast lovingkindness. It is written in blood.
I wrote those words above in the dark of night. I was up praying for my friend as she faced the reality of a tumor growing on her vena cava. The anchor that holds when the storm comes is knowing the love of God, being convinced of it.
The morning is breaking after the storm raced in from the north last night. It lashed out in anger, tearing leaves from the trees and pelting the earth with hailstones. It left just as quickly as it came. The stillness waits for the birds to wake and join the chorus of frogs croaking in the gullies.
I sit here contemplating God’s love, letting His love overwhelm me, surrendering to its unrelenting desire for me. And not for me alone! I remember how He loves those I love.
"God so loved the world that He gave His only Son."
Love always requires risk. Jesus risked it all for me. He chose to give me his love even though I cannot love Him in turn. He laid down His life for me, his friend.
“God loves me. He loves me. Me. God loves me.”
Lord, these great truths from Paul’s letter to the Romans remind me of your sovereign will to love your people. Your love has not left us. It is not far off awaiting another day. Sometimes your love comes to us in the storm: sometimes in the stillness. It is manifest to us in a thousand ways---ten thousand ways! It is personified in your Son, Jesus.
Help me to embrace your love and let it be poured out through my life to others to others this day.