Tactics Against Fear

Has the news disrupted your calm lately? Do you worry about the future of our world, our country, our community? Are you afraid for your family?

You’re not alone. I rarely feel uplifted after reading the headlines or watching the evening broadcasts. Within a half hour, we can be presented with terrorism, dire financial predictions, the plight of the homeless, and an increase in cancers, homicides, unfaithfulness, or depression. The news can leave us feeling overwhelmed.

Yet, over and over in the Bible, God instructs us to cast our worries upon Him, to leave tomorrow for tomorrow, and to fear not. The phrase, “Do not be afraid,” appears 70 times in the New International Version of the Bible. Frequently, “Do not be afraid,” is followed by, “or discouraged,” reminding us to act with courage. Some say other versions of this phrase appear 365 times, one for each day of the year. Often the command to not be afraid is followed by a reassurance of God’s protection. God doesn’t want us to go through life frightened about tomorrow.

Does that mean we shouldn’t plan or prepare for the future?


It means God doesn’t want us to be paralyzed by fear, or even worse, to become so overwhelmed that we despair. He asks us to place our trust in Him, for faith casts out fear and allows us to become our best self, ready to do the tasks He sets for us.

When we are afraid, we have tactics we can choose:

  • We can give the situation over to God, trusting Him to be all-loving, then
  • We can face the fear and act to overcome it, or
  • We can turn our backs on the fear.


When is each appropriate?


1. We Turn to God


Let our first reaction to fear be to turn to God.

Yes, we will meet evil, danger, hard times, suffering, and death. We simply cannot avoid all difficulty. Our best arsenal against fear is our trust in God. He is all-good, all-loving, and all-merciful, but our world is imperfect, and we will suffer. When we do, we need to remember what it felt like to be a child comforted on a lap in a rocking chair. Then we crawl into God’s arms to be cradled, knowing this too shall pass, and that we are treasured and loved beyond limits. Our trust in God, and His faithfulness, will get us through.

Some dangers that are very real, but beyond our reach to affect. North Korea is perilously unstable. Legalizing marijuana might result in people driving under its influence. Our children may meet with evil and be unprepared. Cancer or heart disease might lurk within us or our loved ones.

There is a quote from St. Francis de Sales: “The same Everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day of your life. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then, and put aside all anxious thoughts.”

So first we “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

Once we have placed ourselves in God’s care, we can return our attention to our difficulty and know that “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

 2. Face the Fear


When we are afraid, worried, or overcome with anxiety, we need to ask ourselves how realistic the fear is. Are we in true imminent danger, or are we borrowing trouble that might happen?

If the danger is real, we need to determine the best way to react. Sometimes running away is a great choice. Usually though, facing our fear means we need to calm ourselves enough to think clearly. We need to assess our strengths and weaknesses, apply our strengths to the problem, and take whatever steps we need to overcome our weaknesses. Is the danger something we can lessen, or do we need help from someone else?

For instance, if I’m in danger of not being able to pay my bills, I calm myself so I can assess the situation. I might use my strengths to add part-time work, or to think through where I can cut back. If I know I’m weak in self-discipline or in budgeting, I work to improve my abilities in those areas or seek help from someone who has those strengths. In some of the weeks ahead we will consider ways to overcome weaknesses that disrupt our calm.

3. Turn our Backs on Fear


Many fears don’t deserve facing for longer than it takes to realize they are not worth our time. Some things are so unlikely to happen, or so trivial if they do, that we simply need to realize we are wasting our energy if we let them upset us. Does it really matter what an acquaintance thinks about what we do? Or whether a friend has more or is doing better than us at something? Or if we are occasionally embarrassed? Sometimes we turn our backs by deciding the trouble is not important enough to worry about. We let it go.

Summary – When Fear is Overwhelming

When we are overcome with anxiety, we need to calm ourselves. We pray. We take deep, slow breaths. We can meditate. Perhaps we take a brisk walk or run. We might reach out to a friend for help.

When we are calm enough to be able to think clearly, then we can decide whether we need to face our fears or turn our backs on them. If we need to face them, we can begin to plan (with a sense of strength, not fear) and prepare ourselves for what lies ahead, knowing as St. Augustine did that we can “Pray as if everything depended on God, and work as if everything depended on [us].”

Blessings on your week!



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