A few days ago, as I was driving home, my mind drifted. In no time I was in an internal panic, thinking about what would happen to my children if my husband and I both died at the same time. Then, I let my mind go further (too far) and I imagined if we all died except my youngest daughter. Would our friends gather around her? Would our family get here quickly enough to calm her fears? I was almost in tears as I was driving, gripped by fear.
Fear has been a long-time battle for me. Believe it or not, I’ve made significant headway in this area. God has done a work in me that has taken years, but obviously, the battle is not over. I know in my mind that perfect love casts out fear, but my sinful flesh is still warring against that perfect love.
Over the years, I have; however, learned some ways to combat my fears. At moments when fear rears its ugly head, I have to rehearse, again and again, how to do battle against it.
Pray. This may sound a little too easy or even trite. But it’s not easy at all! Prayer is often what we overlook in our frenzy, yet it’s probably the most powerful weapon we have. We have access to God. Jesus is interceding for us. The Holy Spirit pleads for us with groans too deep for words. So when fear takes hold, the first response should be prayer. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). Cast “all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
Talk to yourself. Stop listening to the fearful thoughts that are circulating in your head and start telling yourself the truth. (And by the way, you won’t have any truth to say to yourself if you don’t have any of God’s Word in you, which was my problem for many years.) Speak God’s Word to your own heart and even aloud if that will help. Memorize verses like Joshua 1:9, Psalm 23, Psalm 36:7, Psalm 56:3-4, Psalm 118:6, John 14:1, and 2 Timothy 1:7. (You should pray these verses, as well.) Then, do a search of Scripture for times when God tells individuals not to be afraid. He told Joshua when he was about to face the enemy. He sent the message to Mary along with the word that she had “found favor with God.” He told it to the shepherds when they received the “good news of great joy.” God knows our tendency to fear, and He has given us His Word to help us in our weakness.
Remove things that fuel fear. I stopped watching the news. I would soak in the lead stories of the evening, and then lie awake at night imagining myself, or a family member, in those (always) tragic accounts. It only made me afraid. My husband now reads the news, filters it and lets me know what issues I should study further. This has made a tremendous positive effect on the level of fear I’m carrying. Besides news, there are certain movies and TV shows that I know I don’t need to watch. And my husband doesn’t try to coax me into watching them. He helps protect me from fear.
Take practical steps. If one of your greatest fears is what will happen to your children if you die, then make provision for them. Get a life insurance policy. Write a will. Talk to a friend or family member about caring for your kids if something were to happen to you. If one of your constant nagging fears is staying alone, and your husband travels a lot, get a security alarm or a dog with a big bark. I’ve seen two moms have a big sleepover with their kids when both their husbands were out of town specifically because they didn’t like staying alone. Sometimes we spend time fretting and stewing in our fears and neglect practical steps to counter those fears. This does not mean you’re giving in to fear. You’re battling it.
Trust God. Whatever the future holds, God is trustworthy. His steadfast love endures forever. This does not mean that difficult situations — the kind that we as humans consider worthy of fear — will not arise. Trials will come. Jesus suffered and we will suffer. But we do not have to face our fears alone. God is with us, Jesus knows our frailty and intercedes for us, and the Holy Spirit empowers us from within. “Greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world.” “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.” Trust God!