Fear

When a Child is Afraid

Author: Chaplain, Lt. Col. Brendon O'Dowd, USAF, (Ret.)

Photo by The U.S. Army is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I know a child who is afraid.

He is terrified to be alone and terrified to be left with people other than his parents. His fear drives him to do and say irrational things. No amount of coaxing, rational thought, bribing, or distraction seems to work. He is afraid and there is nothing anyone can do to help.

Fear

When his father drops him off, he promises that he will pick him up. He says he loves him and asks his son to trust him. The son acknowledges his father’s words but the minute his father drives away, he forgets his father’s promise and his own promise to trust.

Fear grips his heart and he cannot see past the overwhelming feelings. He even denies that his father made a promise or that his father will fulfill his promise. Fear dictates what he remembers he heard.

Listening & Obedience

The solution to his problem is not easy, but it starts with listening correctly to the voice of his father. What is listening? The first thing a young Jewish boy or girl learns is the shema from Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength,” (New King James Version).

The word shema in Hebrew is the word “to hear” which means to listen with the intent to obey. In our culture we do more listening than obeying. We listen to our music, the TV, YouTube, family members, and bosses. Sometimes those words sink in but more often than not we forget them. We are surrounded by words that we never intend to obey.

The fearful boy needs to listen to his father with the intent of letting the words or promise sink in and dispel his fear. One verse later in Deuteronomy 6:6, Moses reminds the people when they hear the words of God, they are to be put on their “heart.” Listening is a heart exercise.

Perhaps you have a child dominated by fear, or maybe this story hits even closer to home. Fear clouds your perception of truth, and competing voices all around you bring confusion to your decision making.

The Solution

The solution to being afraid starts by listening to the voice of your Father. He has given us His Word that is a lamp to our feet and light to our path (Psalm 119:105). His Word is spirit and life to our tired and worn out bodies (John 6:63). His Word is our counselor who keeps a watchful eye upon us (Psalm 32:8).

What else can we do to overcome fear for our children? We can set the example of trust. Isaiah 26:3 says “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You,” (NKJV). To be stayed in mind is to focus on the voice of God while ignoring the competing voices all around us. It is to practice mindful-living that listens with the intent of trusting and obeying.

We can also be careful with what we promise our children. Perhaps you have a habit of promising your child more than you can deliver. Maybe you don’t want your children to suffer or be in want. Maybe you want your children to always be happy. These are things we cannot and should not promise our children. Stick to promising what you can deliver, that you will love them no matter what.

Finally, be consistent in your discipline. Children who live with ever-changing rules will naturally be afraid. Despite what they may say, they need the security of a well-structured home. Every military member knows thriving takes place best with well-balanced order and structure.

Fear is powerful, but never more powerful than God. Those who are afraid can trust the Father who will fulfill every promise (Psalm 56:3). Today is the day to listen to Him!

 

If you are dealing with this issue, you do not need to face the challenge alone. Jesus has conquered every challenge so you can move from your present situation to a life of overcoming hope. Invite him to lead you in your journey. He will forgive, comfort, and heal you.

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