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.

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

About The Author

Daniel Threlfall

Daniel Threlfall has been writing church ministry articles for more than 10 years. With his background and training (M.A., M.Div.), Daniel is passionate about inspiring pastors and volunteers in their service to the King. Daniel is devoted to his family, nerdy about SEO, and drinks coffee with no cream or sugar. Learn more about Daniel at his blog and twitter.

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2 Responses

  1. Marc McGrath

    Here are some additions:

    Overcoming Fear

    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.”

    Identify your fear(s). Are these things which can happen, or things which will happen? I may not get the job (or keep it). I may not get that guy/girl as a boyfriend/girlfriend. I may not marry, or be prosperous. But I will die! Is it a remote possibility*, or a likely one. Are there basic things I can do preventatively to make those outcomes more remote: ie., “I think I will get diabetes.” Perhaps, but maybe you can adopt a more healthy lifestyle to lessen that possibility or its severity. If you are afraid of losing your job, perhaps there is a reason you can respond to in a positive way (i.e., relations with your boss or co-workers, co-operation with requirements you haven`t liked, doing things you`ve avoided, etc). Fear about your marriage (Is he/she cheating?) may be from a sense you have lost communication with your spouse. Get some credible advice and address that.
    In these cases, fear may be a warning call to make practical changes
    * In the case of being paralysed by fears of things happening which we recognize as remote possibilities, we are likely dealing with guilt (for actual wrongs or not). Guilt we feel but do not deal with, causes us to feel something bad should happen to us. And this results in fear that things will happen to us.

    Identify where fear comes from. Fear is an emotion, which tells us that we absolutely need certain things which seem (or are) in jeopardy. Face the fact that our absolute needs are our gods! (We may insist otherwise, but our fears reveal the ugly truth of the matter!) They are what we are depending upon for a sense of well-being. Fear is the voice that tells us our gods are failing us. Whatever gives me comfort in life is my god. Expectations easily become little gods. Habits and comforts we have gotten used to can easily become gods. And when these are in jeopardy, we can easily feel (note the word “feel”) that we cannot exist or be happy without them.

    Face reality. You have worshiped at the altar of things (or people, or ideas, or forms ) –anything earthly in origin. To overcome fear, you must throw all these things “on the fire” because they are temporary and must and will fail. My fear is the sense that my gods are indeed failing! You will never overcome or be free of fearfulness by receiving the assurance that you can keep these things. Those who try to do this are unknowingly keeping us in bondage, wrapping another rope of fear around us! They are enabling our fears, not serving our welfare. Reject all such encouragements! They are a lie!

    Get a new vision of the real God. Many of us view God more as a proposition or an idea, something theoretical, rather than as an eternally living, Person, a Person (OK, Three in One!) who is near to us, whom we can know, and whose word speaks to us, who is really eternal, really all powerful, and who really is in control of all things, even the things we feel we are losing.

    Realize and come to terms with what is lasting, and what isn`t. The reality is that your soul (and those of others) and the eternal God are the ONLY things which will last! That`s a short list! Everything else is passing, failing, “getting old like a piece of clothing” (2 Peter 3). This, by contrast, is a loooong list, but its good to make the list as a help to recognize the extent of that reality. It includes this life, your parents (as parents, not as people), your children, your church, the worship order, the songs, the house and the church buildings, your job and abilities, etc., etc. Make YOUR list and be ruthless; take no prisoners!

    Trust in God. Embrace this eternal, living God with everything you have. Surrender your whole list to Him to do with as he pleases. The only fitting response to our fear is to trust in the eternal, living, sovereign 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. When they do give them the same treatment you have given the former ones. Rather than trying to be brave or courageous, trust in God. New fears don`t need new answers (that`s enabling), they need the same eternal, living God to dispel them.

    Pray. How long has it really been since you have prayed to God with all your heart, weeping, surrendering everyone and everything you care about to Him and his care? (Don`t try this on your commute!) When were you last satisfied with God and God alone. When we are satisfied with God alone, nothing but him, we are liberated from our fears. This is the wisdom behind God`s command to give to God our bodies (Rom.12:1) Prayer is the natural response of a trusting heart. Pray to God when facing your fears. We no not need to “feel” his presence; that is emotion. We need to believe in it and that He will hear our prayers and answer them. [The old adage is true: Fact-Faith-Feeling. The fact is the truth of God`s word. Faith is believing it because He said it. Feeling is the well being that comes from the other two –and by means of His Spirit]

    • admin

      Thanks for this comprehensive addition, Marc. You're so right: "New fears don`t need new answers, they need the same eternal, living God to dispel them."

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