Does your child struggle to overcome fear and anxiety? Discover how learning God’s truth can help your child so fear cannot control them. Read more.
Once again, I ran down the hall to my parents’ room. I knocked and tearfully explained to my dad that I was afraid. I needed him to check my room for monsters. Although I realize now how exhausting it was for him, he never failed to return to my room with me, check my window, and tuck me into bed. Though I did eventually stop waking my parents up at night, my fear still controlled me as I grew older. I slept with my closet light on almost until I left for college. Sometimes I would even wake up crying because of dreams where my worst fears and anxieties (like losing my parents or being humiliated and hated by my friends) had become reality. I would become physically ill when faced with a situation that overwhelmed or frightened me.
We all know fear in some way or another. Maybe you have a child like this, or maybe you were one yourself. Of course, some fear can be helpful and keep us from doing foolish things (like jumping off a cliff when all our friends do!). But the kind of fear that controlled me years ago is entirely unhelpful. Instead of reasonable fears that helped me exercise caution, my fears would keep me from doing the right thing or tempt me not to trust God. Not all fear is wrong, but this kind definitely is! So how can we help our kids learn the difference between good fear that helps them navigate dangerous situations and controlling fear that keeps them from a right relationship with God?
The Truth About Sinful Fear
It Fills Our Minds
Sinful fear is not a passing thought that influences our course of action or helps us make a decision. Instead, it is an overwhelming, consuming fear that fills our minds. It keeps us from being able to focus on our work or our school. This fear cannot be shaken, no matter how much we try to distract ourselves. It ruins the moment we’re living in right now to the point that we are miserable and also dreading the next moment.
Though we hope this fear will eventually just go away, it won’t. It will only grow. We won’t stop being afraid. We won’t grow out of this overwhelming fear—it will grow as we grow. Maybe one day it will look like anxiety over relationships, housing, or employment. But it will still be that same old fear that convinced our kids a monster was in their closet.
It Controls Us and Keeps Us Focused on Ourselves
Another indication that our fear is sinful fear is if it paralyzes us, controls us, or keeps us from obeying God. This fear could look like crippling anxiety that prevents us from being kind to others. Maybe it tells us not to reach out to “the new kid” who needs a friend. We might feel angry when someone requests something from us that is outside our comfort zone. It might look like being too fearful to tell the truth or stand up for what’s right. This fear may even keep us from sharing the gospel with someone because we think it will ruin our relationship with them.
Whenever we are too afraid of what could happen to us to do what’s right, we automatically know that fear is sinful and wrong. This sinful fear ignores the needs of others or the clear principles of Scripture and instead, fixates on our comfort or safety. This fear paralyzes us, keeping us from doing what God has for us.
It Steals Our Peace
We can also recognize fear that is sinful and wrong by the effect it has on our spiritual state. No matter what happens, believers have the ability to be at peace. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit who lives in our hearts! So when we lack peace in our hearts and feel restless in our souls because of the fears that are filling our minds, it’s a clear indicator that fear is wrong. Galatians 5 exhorts us to walk in the Spirit in order to not fall prey to the lusts of the flesh. So when we lack peace, our fear may be controlling us instead of the Spirit.
This is NOT good! The Bible makes it clear that Christians should strive to live each moment under the control of and in obedience to the Spirit of God. Any time we allow something other than the Spirit to control us, it is sin.
How God’s Truth Helps Kids Overcome Fear and Anxiety
Salvation Frees Us from Our Greatest Reason for Fear
Any Christian who has put their faith in Jesus for salvation has had their greatest reason for fear completely eradicated! The blood of our Savior covers and atones for our sin. Jesus conquered death which had the rule over us but now has no victory or sting (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). God has removed our sin as far away from us as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Jesus protects us forever, and no one can separate us from His love (John 10:27-29, Romans 8:38-39).
The Spirit Lives in Us to Give us Peace
Rather than giving in to the fears that threaten to overwhelm our minds each day, believers are able to walk in the Spirit! God’s Spirit brings peace to our minds by reminding us of God’s truth. This is one reason we must be reading our Bibles and renewing our minds with the Word of God. As we fill our minds with Scripture, the Spirit will use this truth to bring us peace when our fears want us to forget truth. This peace is so great and beyond understanding (Philippians 4:7) that it can silence the anxieties and fears that keep us awake at night (Psalm 4:8).
We Know God’s Promises About Our Future are Sure
God’s Word also tells us the truth about our future. Though we are tempted to be anxious and fearful about the next minute, hour, day, month, or year, the truth is that our futures—no matter what they hold—are secure in Christ! The truth that God is working all things together for good (Romans 8:28) meets our worries and anxiety about a new school or a different neighborhood. Fear of losing a friend if we share the gospel melts as we remember the power of God that has saved our souls and given us a home in heaven. Even fearful worries over needs, hopes, and desires are quieted by the constant care of our Heavenly Father who clothes the lilies and sees a sparrow that falls to the ground (Luke 12:6-7, 27).
Embracing God’s Truth
Choose to Believe It Today… and Every Day
So what if we believe what’s true and STILL haven’t overcome our fear and anxiety? Well, can I tell you something? I still struggle with fear every day. But I have seen victory! God has given me the courage to share the gospel even though my heart was beating out of my chest and my mind was screaming at me to stop. He has given me the steadfastness to confront friends with the truth and encourage them to turn back to God. So when my heart starts racing because of the length of my to-do list or the cost of groceries, I have to make the choice between walking by the Spirit and being controlled by fear.
Overcoming looks different for everyone. Disciplining our minds to focus on God’s truth is hard work! It takes consistent effort and sometimes, a very, very long time to overcome patterns of fearful thinking. Some may be able to kick their sinful fear to the curb for good and not struggle with it anymore. Others might continue to struggle. But it is when we realize we have the choice to live in fear or walk in truth that we can overcome fear. No fear can control us when we choose God’s truth over the fear in our hearts.
Filling Our Minds With Truth
If our kids are going to overcome their fear and anxiety, they must know God’s truth! This is why we have written Fear Not: Quieting Fear and Anxiety with God’s Truth. This Bible study examines the truth about fear and how God’s truth is what we need in order to not be controlled by our fear.
We may never be completely free from fear on this earth. But we don’t have to be overcome by it! Through their study, your kids will see that moment-by-moment dependence on God is how we fight any sin in our lives. When they acknowledge the truth about God’s power and control in their lives, fear won’t be able to control them. They will overcome fear and anxiety with God’s truth!
Ever since she was a little girl, listening delightedly as her mom read books and poetry out loud to her, Jessica has been enraptured by the power of words. When she is not reading or scribbling down poems of her own, Jessica can most likely be found hiking with her husband or trying out new recipes. She has yet to discover at what point plants, journals, and coffee mugs become *excessive,* but is sure she can still find room for one or two more. Through her bachelor’s degree in English Literature, opportunities to write for various small publications, and experience as a Staff Writer for Not Consumed Ministries, Jessica has grown in her passion for writing and desire to share that passion with others. As she seeks to show the goodness and beauty of God in her calling as a writer-wife-homemaker, Jessica hopes to encourage you in your relationships with family, friends, and most importantly, in your relationship with Christ.