How to Cope When Fear is Overwhelming

How to Cope When Fear is Overwhelming

When fear overwhelms my mind, it can feel like the walls are closing in. All I can think of is the thing that I’m afraid of, and I can’t see any way out of the worst case scenario.

There are some very good, practical things I can do when I’m overwhelmed by fear. I can use grounding or breathing techniques. These techniques work because they distract me from what I’m obsessively thinking about.

Reading Bible verses can also distract me from what I’m thinking about (as long as I’m reading verses about peace and rest). But the Bible isn’t just nice thoughts about calm things.

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

God’s Word divides between soul and spirit. The soul is the mind, will, and emotions; this is where fear lives. But the spirit of a Christian is where God lives (1 Cor. 6:19) and it is completely free of fear.

Psalm 23:4
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

God isn’t just telling me not to fear, God is telling me that He is with me in the darkest valley. He’s telling me that when my fears have clouded out the light and all I see is darkness and danger, He is beside me. He will fight off anyone or anything that tries to attack me while I’m defenseless in the dark. And He can be trusted.

Notice God didn’t tell me when I’m in the dark valley, I have to fight my way out of it. He’s telling me when I’m defenseless, He will be my defender.

Reading God’s Word helps me differentiate between what I’m feeling and the truth of who He is inside me.

1 John 4:4
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Reading this verse reminds me that “the one who is in the world” – whoever is doing things that are causing so much fear in me – is not the one I have to focus on.

Fear says, “FOCUS ON ME! Look at all these horrible things happening!”

God says…

Isaiah 43:1-2
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.”

God’s Word doesn’t tell me if I believe in Him, bad things won’t happen. He tells me that when I believe in Him, He will come to live inside me and He will protect me.

But fear isn’t always logical and rational. Sometimes, fear fills my mind when there’s no good reason for it. I don’t know how to fight the fear because it doesn’t seem to be linked to anything that I can see – it’s not about a specific situation.

Psalm 34:4
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.

God isn’t just bigger than people or circumstances that can cause fear. God is bigger than fear itself.

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Again, God’s answer to fear is to remind us that He is with us. When the fear is so big that it fills my mind and I can’t see any way around it, God reminds me that He’s right there with me.

If fear is the only thing I can see, all I have to do is close my eyes. Fear will tell me if I close my eyes, I’ll be vulnerable to attack. But if I know that God is right beside me holding my hand, then I’m safe. I can close my eyes and shut out all the things fear is trying to make me focus on.

Because ultimately, fear is just a show. It’s a huge movie screen in my mind playing all the bad stuff in living color and at the loudest volume. And along with telling me all the things I should be afraid of, it’s also constantly telling me not to look away. Fear tells me that if I close my eyes or turn my back, it’s going to GET ME!

But it’s just a show. If I know that the Almighty Creator of the Universe is holding my hand, then I can close my eyes and turn my back on the show, knowing that I’m safe.

There are real dangers in the world. And God’s Word is full of wisdom about how to avoid those dangers. God does not use fear to teach us how to stay safe. God keeps us safe and teaches us how to walk away from fear.

How has God’s Word helped you to let go of fear?

Photo credit: geralt

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