Fear was the first thing that ever drove me to God. It wasn’t fear of God, it was fear of everything else. As a small child I lived in constant fear that my parents would die. By the time I was eleven-years-old I had developed an enslaving fear of demons that I would battle for nearly four years. I remember telling my mom I didn’t believe I would ever break free. But I did. One painstaking day at a time, my parents taught me to quote Truth in the face of fear over and over again, sometimes thirty times a day. And then twenty. And then ten, as the bouts grew smaller and my faith grew bigger. Until one day I realized I couldn’t remember the last time a fear of demons had controlled me.
That journey radically influenced my perspective of fear. It took the “fear” out of fear because it taught me that fear is conquerable. It taught me that fear is really all about deception. It’s about fooling us into forgetting the character and reality of God. I love the way the Jesus Storybook Bible captures the account of Jesus calming the storm. “Why were you scared?” Jesus asked. “Did you forget who I Am? Did you believe your fears, instead of me?”
Even as I type the words, my heart whispers yes. Yes, Jesus, even as an adult I forget who You are. I am tempted, continually, to believe my fears instead of You. Recently, a new mom contacted me to suggest I write about fear, specifically in parenting. This is a portion of what she wrote:
Since becoming a mom, one thing that I didn’t expect was the fear that has accompanied my new role. Fear that I’m not doing a good job, fear that I’ll hurt him, fear that I hear him crying while he’s napping and I’m in the shower, fear he will wake up in the middle of the night screaming, fear that he’s not eating right, fear that he’ll have allergies…the list goes on and on.
Can you relate? I sure can. Parenting has this unique way of opening up worlds of fear we didn’t even contemplate pre-children. And unfortunately (as wiser moms have taught me) the temptation to fear doesn’t bid you farewell when your kids get older. It only grows and expands like spaghetti in a pot. Either get a handle on it, or call Strega Nona!
So how do we get a handle on it? The same way I did seventeen years ago. By claiming the Truth in the face of fear, moment by scary moment. In regard to parenting, here are some common fears I’ve brainstormed. (Feel free to add more in the comments below.)
|Common Fears||Trustworthy Truths|
|Physical||Life-threatening sickness or injury will befall my child.||“All the days ordained for (my child) were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Ps. 139:16|
|My child will fall into the hands of evil people (kidnapping, abuse…etc.)||“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of (my child’s) head are numbered. So don’t be afraid; (your child) is worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:28-31|
|Something will be “wrong” with my child developmentally.||“For You created (my child’s) inmost being; you knit (him/her) together in (my) womb. I praise you because (my child) is fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Ps. 139:13-14|
|My child will experience unique suffering because of a disability.||“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore (my child can) boast all the more gladly about (his/her) weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on (him/her). For Christ’s sake, (my child can) delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when (my child) is weak, then (my child) is strong.” 2 Cor. 12:9-10|
|Emotional/Social||My child will be rejected by peers.||“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Gal. 1:10|
|My child will experience failure in school that damages his/her self-esteem.||“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Rom. 8:28My child’s identity must be rooted in Christ (Eph 1, 2 Pt. 2:9).|
|A trauma we’re going through in our family (such as divorce or chronic illness) will adversely affect my child’s emotional well-being.||“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him…” 2 Tim. 1:12|
|Spiritual||My child will reject God.||“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” Jn. 6:44“(The Lord) is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9|
|Ungodly peers will influence my child.||“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Pro. 22:6“…He who began a good work in (my child) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil. 1:6|
|I am an inadequate spiritual leader; I will “mess my child up.”||“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph. 2:8-10|
|The sinful strongholds in my life will be passed on to my child.||“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Cor. 5:17|
Obviously, I don’t believe we should claim these verses then sit back and do nothing to prepare our kids for ungodly influences, or counsel them through family trials. The Bible calls us to train our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4). But ultimately, their lives–the days and experiences allotted for them–are in the hands of God (Acts 17:24-27).
Years ago, my mother spoke a Bible verse over my life. “Him shall you fear, Him shall you dread, and He shall become your sanctuary” (Isaiah 8:13). I didn’t understand it at the time, but it’s beautiful to me now. The secret to freedom from fear is fear of God. If you and I tremble at the power, dominion, and Lordship of God Almighty, we will tremble at nothing else. We will remember that the Captain of the Storm is still in the boat. And He will become our sanctuary.
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