Molly has developed an irrational fear.
For some reason that I cannot understand, she is terrified of my fly swatter. Whenever I swat a fly (and they come in droves, uninvited, when I start to cook dinner) or kill a mosquito, she runs into my neighbour’s house (I live in a granny flat on the property of my son’s parents-in-law) and jumps onto her lap for protection.
Now, Molly has never been abused because I bought her from a breeder at the age of 6 weeks. I have never disciplined her physically, so she has no reason to be afraid of me. In every other way, she trusts me and is affectionate towards me to the point of being clingy at times when I have been out for a while.
Once again, she reminds me of many believers, including me in the past, who mistakenly believer, through ignorance, that difficulties and hard times in our lives mean that God is punishing us for something we have done. We are afraid of God; we don’t trust Him because we think that He is waiting to give us a hard time because of sin.
Satan has a field day in our minds. We hear his accusing voice when we have sinned and we believe the guilt we feel because we are ignorant of the truth. What is the truth?
So now, there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And, because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death (Rom 8:1-2 – NLT).
When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the penalty for all the sin of all people for all time. God is not angry with us when we sin, but sin does disrupt our fellowship with Him. We must acknowledge that He is right and we are wrong when we have sinned and receive the forgiveness and cleansing of the blood of Jesus that He freely gives us (1 John 1:9).
Why does God allow us to have hardships in our lives if it is not punishment for sin? The writer to the Hebrews gives us the answer.
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? …Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines is for our good, that we might share in His holiness (Heb. 12:7, 10 – NIV).
God passionately longs that we trust Him so implicitly that we never doubt His love, even when we go through hard times. It is in the difficulties we face that we learn that, in all things, He is working for our good that we might become like Jesus, the perfect Son who always trusted His Father’s love, even when He was crucified.
How can I communicate to Molly that I love her and that I would never do anything to hurt her. She does not understand my language and I cannot speak “dog”! I can only demonstrate my love by showing her in my actions that whatever I do is for her good – even to killing the flies that contaminate her food.
But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8 – NLT).
God wants us to trust that love when trouble and hardships come so that we live our lives every day without fear.
And, as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So, we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love (1 John 4:17-18).