God is the author of all of our emotions, including fear. Fear is a normal human emotion that tells us something in our life has put us at risk. Our safety and security in some way is precarious and we may be in danger. Fear conveys a message and requires us to stop and assess how we are and what is going on.
Fear comes in all shapes and sizes – from all out panic to being just a bit nervous. It can be either intense to the point that you can’t function or annoyingly present but not a big deal.
Children need help identifying what they are feeling, why they are feeling it, and then figuring out what to do with it. So, we start by asking out children some basic questions about fear.
- What does fear feel like? Fear doesn’t feel the same to every child. They don’t experience it the same and nor will they exhibit it the same way. Find out from your child exactly what fear feels like to them.
- Why is fear present? Fear comes from somewhere. Figuring out why your child is fearful, no matter if it doesn’t make sense or seems silly to them, helps us help them determine how to deal with it
- Finally, what do I do with my fear? Depending on what is causing the fear and how intense it is, we can figure out whether the child needs to talk something through, change some behavior or environment, or think about their thinking (meta-cognition). No matter what, however – we always pray.
For this article, we’ll deal with how to combat those fears our children may have that weigh them down and get in the way of everyday life. These are fears that don’t serve them well and need to be addressed head on. Never ignore this type of fear – it will only get bigger and more debilitating the longer we pretend it doesn’t exist or isn’t a problem.
SO, what do we do with a fear that is causing problems in our everyday life?
Charles Spurgeon, a famous English Preacher in the 1800s, once preached, “There are some fears which would die immediately if we dared to question them.” He taught this as he was teaching on Isaiah 51:12-13 which itself has a question that gives the key to facing our fears.
Spurgeon says that for every fear that stops us from living with joy and strength, we need to learn to ask a question and it is in the question we find the answer to our fears.
Here is a list of fears with the question that confronts it and then, the answer Spurgeon gives to the question which fights the fear. It is remembering the answer to the question that is the key to fighting the fear. BUT – handling fear always STARTS with asking the question.
Fear of people being mean (bullies, rejection, unkindness)
QUESTION: Who is in control of those who attack you?
ANSWER (by Spurgeon): Isaiah 51:12, 13 asks, “Where is the wrath of your enemy?” And the answer comes, it is under the control of God. Even Satan, your fiercest foe, was created by God; God rules over him, God does with him just as he pleases. God will be with you and can alleviate and help you stand up to those who attack you. Never forget who is on your side!
Fear of someone ruining my reputation (bad messages on social media, gossip, slander)
QUESTION: You say that your enemies are doing all that they can to destroy you, but can they destroy the divine promises?
ANSWER (by Spurgeon): The Lord has promised to give his sheep eternal life; can they take that promise from you, or make it of no value? They may fight against you, but can they keep you out of heaven? They may threaten you, but can they make the covenant of grace to be of no effect? Since eternal things are safe, we can be content to let other things come or go just as God wills. Keep an eternal perspective; this life can be very hard and disappointing, but God is with you, loves you and your real home is heaven. This pain won’t last forever.
Fear of death (severe or terminal illness, dealing with grief or potential death)
QUESTION: What will happen when you die?
ANSWER (by Spurgeon): If you cannot answer that question, let Paul answer it for you: “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” [Romans 8:38-39]. When we die, we see God and will be with Him face-to-face. Until then, we live with Him here by the Spirit, looking forward to when we are actually with Him. Turn the fear of death into the anticipation of heaven.
Dear Reader, we must stop listening to our fears and instead, talk back to them. Do not let your child get in the habit of accepting whatever thoughts come into their head and assuming they are true merely because they exist. Talk back to your worries; question your fears. And in asking the questions, seek your answers in God’s sufficient Word. There we find the answers to our fear.
Blessings to you dear Friend as you seek to help your children walk in a way that combats fear and allows faith to flourish.
With peace to you always – Elizabeth