13 January Devotion
Reading: 1 John 4: 11-18
Fear is one of the most powerful and dominant emotions in humans. Specialists say that babies start to experience fear at the age of six months, if not earlier. We fear different things in different phases of life. A toddler might fear detachment from his/her mother, or maybe loud noises. Most children are afraid of being in the dark or being bullied at school. Teenagers are sometimes scared of being excluded, not fitting in, or loneliness. In education, there is a fear of failure or not meeting parents' expectations (or maybe oneself). In relationships, it’s fear of abandonment, or worse, fear of not finding the right person. In careers, it’s fear of being stuck in one job, or maybe, not getting the promotion. Many things could be added to the long list (fear of losing loved ones, the doctor’s phone call, etc.). Of course, Covid-19 is amplifying all these fears across the world. These are all real fears which we experience daily. We seem to constantly live with some kind of fear; once we get over one reason to fear, we soon face another. Isn’t it amazing that after living in fear of Covid-19 for a whole year, now that the vaccine is available, some of us are afraid of the vaccine?!
Naturally, we resort to power as the antidote to fear. If only we could possess enough power, we could overcome fear--or so we think. For some, power means more money to overcome the fear of neediness. For others, it means more authority (or control) to overcome the fear of uncertainty. Some might seek to gain power through gaining a high degree from a world-class university to overcome the fear of inadequacy. But wait…is that working? APPARENTLY NOT! To the contrary, power and control make our fears worse. Assuming power to overcome fear results in us being like terrified 6-year-olds covered up in PhD gowns, or tuxedos, or whatever sign of power we wear (sometimes clerical vestments?).
In today’s reading, the apostle John tells us that love, not power, is the real remedy for fear. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” (v.19). The notion that love is the true remedy for fear is counterintuitive for us humans; we naturally go for power and control. It is God’s love, shown to us in his Son, poured in our hearts through his Spirit, which drives away fear.
After Adam and Eve’s rebellion, God called Adam: “where are you?” (Gen. 3:9). “I heard you in the garden,” said Adam, “and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” (Gen. 3:10). This was the first time for a human being to experience fear. It seems that this first experience of fear (primal fear) still resounds in every human being. Might that be the fear out of which all other fears emanate? The good news today is that the one who is calling our names “is love.” He is merciful even to those who cover their fear with fig leaves (power and control). His Love will drive out your fear today.
Almighty and everlasting Lord, help us, we ask, to “see what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.” Amen.