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"Do Not Be Afraid"

     Unlike most three and four-year-old girls, my oldest daughters do not enjoy Disney movies.  While they love princesses and talking animals like most other preschool girls, they are run-out-of-the-room and hide-under-the-desk scared of bad guys.  

     Unfortunately, my daughters’ fears are not confined to Disney evildoers.  They have an extensive list of phobias that encompasses all of the basics: fear of the dark, spiders, pain, bees, thunder and lightning, etc.

     They sound like normal fears for normal kids, which we adults often downplay.  Yet, if we attach clinical names to these same childhood nightmares—nyctophobia, arachnophobia, odynophobia, apiphobia, and keraunophobia—the problems suddenly seem far bigger than any preschooler could handle.  

     These childhood fears mostly abate over time.  Yet, in the dark of night as we lie in our beds, grown-up fears and anxieties plague us as women and prevent our much needed sleep.  

“Do Not Be Afraid”

     It is partly my weakness for worrying that makes me love the Christmas season and the telling of the Christmas story.  Throughout Scripture, God consistently tells His people, “Do not be afraid”—and nowhere in Scripture is that more evident to me than the verses on Christ’s birth.  God sends an angel to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, to say, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard” Luke 1:13 (NIV).  When the angel appeared later to Mary, he similarly said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God” Luke 1:30 (NIV).  Even to the shepherds who were terrified at the sight of the angels celebrating, the angel said, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people,” Luke 2:10 (NIV).

     God is so gracious.  He knows that as humans we are prone to fear.  Unfortunately, fear is crippling and prevents us from fulfilling God’s plans for us.  So, in His mercy, He begins His work in us by first calming our hearts.  He knew that in order for Zechariah, Mary and the shepherds to obey His call, they first had to move past their fear.  If they had failed to heed His message of comfort and peace, they would have been left prostrate on the ground, trembling in terror, unable to move in obedience. How many times in our lives, do we allow this to happen?

“Taking Captive Every Thought”

     Frequently, though, we reject God’s peace by failing to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV).  I find myself dwelling on worrisome thoughts instead of identifying the first sign of fear and stopping it from the beginning.  When I awaken in the night and am afraid, I often pray.  Most of us do.  Yet, even in my prayers, I find myself whining to God and worrying to God, but not listening to God.  It is never harmful to take our problems to God since He already knows what is on our hearts, but if we simply worry in His presence, then we never allow Him the opportunity to give us peace.  

Our Part in the Peace Process

     People often pray Philippians 4:7: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (NIV). They use this verse almost as a magic wand you wave over someone’s head so she will no longer worry.  Yet, this is one of those Scriptures that needs contextualization.  Paul writes: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”  Philippians 4:4-9, (NIV).

In order for us to receive God’s peace, we need to:

  • Maintain an attitude of joy and gratefulness regardless of our circumstances.  
  • Bring all of our requests to God with a heart of thanksgiving.  
  • Focus our minds on the things that are true, lovely, and right rather than dwell on “what if’s,” nightmares, worst-case scenarios, and the horrible things we imagine for our future that may never even occur.  

My Peace Plan

     God’s peace comes as the result of our obedience to keep our thoughts under control.  Now, instead of lying awake worrying in the dark of night and watching the clock tick through the hours, I identify the first signs of worry and put my Peace Plan into action. 

     Following a suggestion in an article in the Discipleship Journal, I have a list of verses and songs that I quote and sing any time I struggle with fear.  I have personally selected verses that speak to me and my situations.  Although I have them written down, over time I have memorized them, and as I have put this Peace Plan into practice, I no longer need to quote all the verses and songs in order to fall back asleep peacefully.

     In this fight against fear, I also ask myself, “So what?”  So what if my absolute worst fear becomes reality?  What then?  The final truth in any situation is that God promises “never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” Hebrews 13:5 (NIV).  As long as that is true, then even our deepest fears can no longer paralyze us because our future will always be with God and, as the angel told Mary, “nothing is impossible with God,” Luke 1:37 (NIV).


Check out these web sites to begin your own collection of verses to quote when you are afraid:


Copyright © 2008-2015 Heather King

Reader Comments...
2009-12-04 05:37:12
"Thank you Heather for bringing this to the front for us to all read, it's great information and I know I can take it to "heart" for my nights of watching the clock. Thanks again for being there."
        - Kim

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