When Your Child is Afraid

Posted on · Posted in Fear, Worldview

The world is indeed a scary place. You cannot will your children to safety. You cannot wish cancer away. You cannot remove the drunk driver from the road. You cannot force world leaders to be wise and responsible. You cannot stop dangers on the playground or even in your backyard. You cannot stop the hurricane, the flood, or the earthquake. You cannot promise your child that bad things will never happen in life.

This means that you cannot assure your children that bad things won’t happen. It is not helpful or accurate to say that there is nothing to fear. Life is full of fearful things. However, fearful things are not reasons to be afraid!  This is the message that your children need to hear.  

So how does this work?

While you can’t promise your children that fearful things will not happen, you can promise them that trusting God is always a good thing.  We love God because he can be trusted. He loved us before we loved him. This means we can always trust him to love us no matter what happens. The love of God drives fear away. Having faith in the love of God is the opposite of living in fear.

Psalm 56 brings this truth to life. Even in scary times, God calls you to trust him. In this Psalm, David is remembering when he was fleeing for his life from King Saul. He had good reason to fear for he found himself in the camp of the Philistines who also wanted to kill him. Listen to what he says in Psalm 56:3-4: 

When I am afraid,
I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?

When he was afraid, he trusted in God, made a wise plan and escaped his enemies. These words bring hope! Yes, evil people and the scary things in life are real. Bad things do happen. But scary people and circumstances can never separate you from the love of God. So David says, “What can mere mortals do to me?” Before God, they are no threat at all, even if your life appears to be in danger. David concerned himself with trusting God and was saved from the men who wanted to take his life. 

Daniel’s three friends trusted God when they were faced with death in the furnace. Remember what they told the king. They said they would honor God whether they were rescued or not. What can mere mortals do to you?

So when you or your children are confronted by fear, even overwhelming fear, trusting God is the way to peace. You can move beyond fear to trust. God is in control of the scary things in life.

Here is a biblical definition of trust that you can share with your children:

Trust is believing and doing what God tells me in the Bible,  even when it is hard to do.

Ruth Younts has framed a beautiful prayer to trust God:

Father in heaven, please help me to trust you. Thank you that you are in control of everything and you do everything for my good. You have promised to care for me. Help me to believe and act on that, even when I’m afraid.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.