“I am with you. I am for you. Don’t be afraid.”

This was God’s message to Mary when he revealed through the angel Gabriel that she would be the mother of the promised Messiah. His words of reassurance even preceded the news itself. It was as if God was saying: “Mary, I’m about to reveal something remarkable to you, something amazing, something overwhelming. But, before you get too overwhelmed, know this: I am with you. I am for you.”

In God’s mind, these two simple yet profound truths were enough to drive away the fear that she was sure to feel, both in that moment and for many years to come. 

”I am with you.” You’re not going this alone. You have the Almighty God of the universe in your corner. 

“I am for you.” I’m not out to get you. I’m here to bless you.

What would it mean if God told us that he is with us and for us? According to 1 John, it would mean the same thing it did to Mary:

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
— 1 John 4:18

If you knew how much God loved you, if you knew that that he is with you and that he is for you, you would have no reason to fear.

Sounds good in theory, right? But none of us live theoretical lives. We live lives where actual difficulties and real challenges face us on a daily basis and cause us to fear. How do we take this truth and integrate it into our lives in a way that will truly help us not to fear?

John gives us the answer in the same passage:

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
— 1 John 4:15–16

The secret to conquering fear?  Confess, believe, abide.

Confess that Jesus is the Son of God. Believe that his death and resurrection is the ultimate expression of God’s love for you. And then, abide in that love as you go about your daily life.

It’s that last part — abiding — that is often the most difficult. The pressures of life consistently draw our attention away from God and to the here and now. But the reality is that there is a greater here and now: God is with you here, and he loves you now. 

Maintaining our focus on this can be a challenge, but it is worth the effort.

How are you abiding? The answer to that question will determine whether or not you are leveraging the truth of God’s word in a way that causes you not to fear.

“I am with you. I am for you. Don’t be afraid.”

Confess. Believe. Abide.