“Some days she has to set the alarm and get up early, just to get all her worrying done.” With a smile, my father described my grandmother.

Fear serves a useful purpose, of course. Yes, we want to avoid unnecessary danger. Yes, we want our loved ones to be safe. But chronic anxiety robs us of joy, sullies our peace of mind, and steals our rest. It damages our physical health and hampers our happiness. Worry and fear put blinders on us. They darken our thoughts and shadow our outlook. When fear overwhelms us, we cannot think. Panic is paralyzing.

But God has better things for us! Two simple words: Fear not. Over and over, these simple words speak a command and offer a comfort. More than 300 times, Scripture tells us not to live afraid. Jesus said it often to His friends. Over and over, the Bible says: Have courage!

How do we put fear in its place and invite peace to settle within us and about us? Here are some suggestions:

Remember that you belong to the Lord. Psalm 139 assures us that God is with us no matter where we are. Romans 8 promises that God is with us no matter what may happen. Think of it. There is no place you can be and nothing that can happen that God is not with you.

Tell the truth to God. When Jesus faced His greatest fear—His Gethsemane moment—His prayer was deeply honest and very simple. Psalm 62 says that we should pour out our hearts to the Lord. Jesus poured out His heart and an angel came and strengthened Him, as Luke 22 tells us.

Share the burden. Talk with someone who will listen with compassion. Trust another person so you are not alone. Often just saying them out loud makes dark thoughts diminish. Fear grows in the dark but courage blooms in the light of friendship and support.

Reread the promises. There are hundreds of verses in the Bible assuring us of God’s presence, power, and love. Find them, say them out loud, invite them into your thoughts—make sure worry is not the only voice you hear!

Simply breathe. Anxiety makes our breathing shallow and our bodies tense. Breathing deeply is a decision to be calm. Navy Seals call this practice “box breathing.” It is how they calm their thinking in dangerous settings. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for a count of four, and exhale fully and slowly. Repeat this six times and you will notice that your body stills and your mind slows down.

Trust your loving God. God is our safe place, our refuge. “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).

by Pastor June Barrow