“Mommy, are you going to die?”
I’ll never forget that night. I was soaking in a detox bath after spending the day in the infusion center receiving my fourth chemo treatment. It had only been a month since our world was rocked from my breast cancer diagnosis. Our daughter, who was seven years old at the time, was staying a little closer to me than usual, especially during such uncertain times. Her sitting by the tub and talking about random things on chemo days had become our new normal, but this time was different. Maybe it was because my hair was completely gone. My body had become so frail from the side effects of treatment that honestly, I guess I did look a bit like death. So, when I saw the look of fear in her eyes, I knew the weight my response carried was great.
A peaceful whisper flowed over me saying, “Just share what you know to be true.”
Taking a deep breath, I said, “You know Abigail, eventually all of us will die. Right now the doctors are doing everything they can to help me. I know all this can be scary, but God said He’d be with me and I believe Him, so I’m not afraid.”
The look of fear immediately left her face. With a simple “Okay,” she went on to share a funny story about her day. It was that simple.
Looking back on that night made me wonder, “Where does fear come from?” No matter how crazy it sounds or irrational it may seem to some, the fact is: fear is real. Why are some paralyzed by its grip and others, like a child, are content to simply trust? What, in that teachable moment, made me so sure God would come through for me?
As a child, I vividly remember walking by my mom’s bedroom, seeing her on her knees praying by her bed. Like many, I grew up in a single parent home riddled with its own challenges and disappointments. Mom never let the difficulties of life destroy her. Instead, she chose to surrender all her anxieties, concerns and fears into the hands of Jesus. She had received His free gift of love, so freedom was hers.
Seeing Mom on her knees in a posture of humility, submitting to something far greater than herself, gave me peace as a young girl. I knew I didn’t have to do life alone. What a precious gift for a parent to give a child. Mom lived out the assurance she had from the promise of Jesus. While people, places, and even events may let us down, Jesus will never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:8, Hebrews 13:5) God loved us so immensely, He sent His only Son to earth, to show us the Father, to suffer and die on the cross, defeating sin – our sin. From the grave, three days later, He arose from the dead, defeating death, so whoever believes in Him can live free from sin and live eternally with Him.
This gift of love transformed my life. After receiving and confessing Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior, I hungered to learn more about His perfect love; the 1 John 4:18 kind of love: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment” (NKJV). Who wants torment? What parent wants that for her children? God, our Father, doesn’t want torment for you either.
In this sweet moment with my daughter, I wanted her to know when trials of life come, God does not intend to punish or torment us with fear. It is not in His character to do so. He is love. When we choose to receive something not of God, we surrender the gift of peace and freedom He so graciously gives. I wanted her to know death is not something to fear, but living with unbelief is.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
The root of fear is unbelief; doubting the very thing you put your faith and hope in, and thinking it won’t come through for you. What do you hope in? For those who believe in Christ, Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (ESV).
Because of God’s grace, sin does not have to be our master. God’s perfect love cast out ALL fear. For the death He died, He died to sin once for all; (Romans 6:10 ESV) We don’t have to try and live in our own strength and just fear LESS. No! When Jesus came and conquered the grave, He did it so we can fear NOT!
Lara Gopp is a writer, speaker and media designer who is passionate about living out her faith in Jesus Christ. She absolutely loves being Dan’s wife and Abigail’s mom. LaraGopp.com