It was bedtime, and for some reason, my three year-old daughter was afraid. “Daddy, I’m afraid,” she told me honestly.
“It’s okay,” I told her reassuringly. “Daddy’s right here beside you. We’ll be okay.”
“But I’m afraid, Daddy.” She continued. “I’m afraid.”
I looked at her, and began to quote, “When I am afraid, I will….”
“Trust in you,” she finished, remembering the verse we memorized.
“Trust in who?” I asked.
“Trust in God,” she responded with a smile, then asked, “Daddy, what does ‘trust’ mean?”
“Well, it just means to think about God and know for sure that He is strong, and powerful, and amazing!”
“Daddy,” she asked finally, “Do we pray?”
We prayed. And after our conversation, my daughter was apparently assured enough to be able to drift peacefully to sleep in a few more minutes.
When I first became a parent, I had a fear moment. This child is mine to take care of. I’m responsible. But what about me? Who is going to take care of me, as I try to take care of her? Who can I cry out to? Who can I run to when I’m afraid?
Let’s face it. There are times in life when we face fears—real, powerful, and even paralyzing fears. It’s not just three year-olds who become afraid. When our own fears come, what do we do? If fear can paralyze us, cripple us, and reduce us to a trembling, whimpering mess, it is important to respond in the right way.
- Admit that you are afraid. David, the ancient king of Israel, faced some fearful situations. At one of those moments, when captured by his enemy, and hounded by a deranged pursuer, he called out to God, fully admitting his fear (Psalm 56:3). It is necessary to realize that we are afraid, if we are to respond correctly in the face of our fear. It’s okay to just admit to God, “Daddy, I’m afraid.”
- Trust in God. The only fitting response to our fear is to trust in God. In Psalm 56, after facing up to his fears (56:1-3), David declared his trust in God: “I put my trust in you…In God I trust (56:3-4). David’s response was not simply a Ra-Ra! cheer-em-up kind of slogan, or a mere religious expression. It was the sole hope of his heart. He turned from his fear to trust in God, and declared, “I shall not be afraid…I shall not be afraid.” (56:4, 11). There is, of course, a kind of fear that is appropriate and healthy. In fact, this good fear can help displace other fears. That ‘good fear,’ is to fear the Lord. This is not the cowering, trembling, whimpering fear of dread and woe. If we have been justified by His grace, we can rest in his goodness and transfer the fear of our circumstances to fearing the Lord, which is a reverent and humble response to His character. Yes, fears will come. Rather than trying to be brave our courageous in our own strength, we must trust in God.
- Pray. Prayer is the natural response of a trusting heart. As my daughter reminded me, we should pray to God when facing our fears. His presence may not always be tangible, but He will hear our prayers and answer them.
What are you afraid of? When you encounter that fearful thought, or that fearful situation, or that fearful person, simply trust in God. Realize that you’re Father is right beside you. He’s with you. He’s in control.