Fears—we all have them. Some fears our imaginations manufacture, like the monsters under our beds or the fear of the dark. But some fears, like the spread of a virus that’s so contagious it disrupts everything, including the ministries you lead each week, are very real.
So what do we do with our fear? Where can we go for answers when everything seems scary or out of control, especially when our minds start “what iffing”? And more importantly, how can we help our kids replace fear with trust, even when we can’t see the ending or predict the outcome?
Fight or Flight
Have you ever wondered why being scared makes your heart beat faster and your breath come quicker? It’s actually pretty cool. Your body’s reaction to fear is called the “fight or flight” response.
Here’s how it works.
Imagine you’re a caveman or a cavewoman from thousands of years ago. (Go ahead and beat your chest if it helps you get into character.) Now imagine that a very hungry saber-toothed tiger drops by your cave for dinner. Wanna know what’s on the menu? YOU.
What do you do? Well, you’ve got two choices.
- Fight. You pick up the nearest club and battle it out with the tiger.
- Flight. You yell at the tiger (“What’s that over there?”), point, hope he falls for it, and RUN.
Your body has the same reaction whenever you confront something fearsome. To prepare for fight or flight, a number of things happen.
- Your heart rate speeds up to get more blood to your muscles and brain.
- Your lungs take in air faster to give your body more oxygen.
- Your pupils get larger so you can see better.
- Your digestive system slows down so you can concentrate on more important things than going to the bathroom.
It’s mind-blowing that God designed our bodies to urge us to either take action or escape, instinctively and at a moment’s notice.
That’s not all, of course. God built our bodies to respond to danger as a way to keep us safe. But He also equips our minds to turn and face our fears. He gave us the brains to take charge of our thoughts once those fight-or-flight moments pass.
When you’re afraid, talk to God
Remember, there is something we can do when we need help facing our fears. There’s someone we can ask for help. When God told Ananias to help Saul—the guy who had Jesus followers thrown in jail—he was probably very afraid.
But instead of running away or keeping his feelings bottled up inside, Ananias talked to God about it. He told God how he was feeling and what he was thinking.
God wants us to do the same thing. An important part of having faith is believing that God hears us when we talk to Him. When we are afraid, let’s focus on turning our fears over to the one who is in control and NEVER changes.
When you’re afraid, remember God’s words
Our brains give us the ability to focus. And focusing helps us remember things—important things. We can use our memories to help us face our fears.
So here’s a little challenge. Grab three index cards or scraps of paper and write your top three fears on them, one on each card. Whatever your biggest, most frequent fears are, write them down.
Now, look up each Scripture from the list below. Choose your top three and write the words of each verse on the back of a fear card.
- Isaiah 35:4
- Psalm 27:1
- John 14:27
- Joshua 1:9
- Matthew 6:34
Then carry these cards in your pocket, wallet, or purse each day. Whenever you feel fear creeping in, pull out the card and read the Scripture on the back. Before long, you’ll start to memorize the verses and you won’t need the cards anymore.
All that focus will help you remember God’s promises so you can face your fear.
Remember to focus on what’s true
God is with us even when we can’t feel His presence.
God is in control even when things don’t go the way we want.
God hears us when we pray and is ready to help us even when He doesn’t answer immediately.
God isn’t surprised by the circumstances that surround us and His purposes stand firm even in the midst of what seems like chaos.
It’s important for you as a leader to focus on these truths and then point the kids you lead to them, too. When you feel your mind start to wander toward all the “what ifs” or even if you find yourself right in the middle of a heart-wrenching “when,” point your FOCUS squarely on what is true.
Point the kids in your ministry toward the one who loves them. And remember that faith grows and flourishes when we focus on TRUST over fear.
What are you focusing on today? Fear or faith?
How can you help the kids in your ministry focus on what’s true?
This post was adapted from Focus: Take a Closer Look, a brand-new interactive devotional for kids about faith, from Orange.
To find out more (and to download a sample as well as free resources), please visit FocusDevo.com.