How to Help a Loved One Struggling with Fear

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I’m not a fan of many of the sayings you typically find on church signs.

Fear doesn’t leave because someone says . . . don’t be afraid or you need bigger faith ... practical ways to help a loved one struggling with fear. #Faith #BibleStudy #Prayer #OvercomeFear

You know. Things like…

Don’t tell God how big your fear is, tell your fear how big your God is.

F.E.A.R. – False Evidence Appearing Real

Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.

Although there may be some truth in these quotes they sound trite to…

the parent who received a hard diagnosis about their child.
the spouse who is suddenly widowed.
the child whose parents are divorcing.
the employee whose boss just gave them a pink slip.
the family who can’t pay their bills.

The truth is that although there are countless verses telling us not to be afraid . . . there are things in life that are understandably frightening.

I can relate to this…

“It’s not the unknown I’m afraid of, it’s the known unknown.”

You see, I learned at a very young age that bad things happen.

I can still see my two-year-old self standing next to my grandmother looking out of an upstairs window as paramedics loaded my mother into an ambulance.

Until that, my only caregivers had been my parents or my grandparents and an aunt who lived upstairs.

But for the next two weeks – I stayed with family members I didn’t know very well and I learned . . . life can change in an instant.

And from that time on I was afraid.

Afraid of the dark. Afraid to spend the night away from home. Afraid something bad would happen to my parents. Afraid of being alone.

Once fear is a close companion it doesn’t leave because someone says . . . don’t be afraid or you need bigger faith. Frightened people know that and believe me, they would stop being afraid if they could!

Frightened people don’t want to be afraid! Telling them they shouldn’t be afraid and that their faith is weak or even sharing some trite church sign saying … is not going to help!

Fear doesn’t leave because someone says . . . don’t be afraid or you need bigger faith ... practical ways to help a loved one struggling with fear. #Faith #BibleStudy #Prayer #OvercomeFear

How to Help a Loved One Struggling with Fear

  1. Listen with compassion – Don’t tell them not to be afraid. In fact, sometimes the best thing to say is, “I’m sorry you’re going through this. Would you like to talk about it?” Then listen, care, and be willing to help if you can.
  2. Pray – Offer to pray for them. Better yet, offer to pray with them. Jesus understands fear as He experienced it.

While Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying before His arrest, trial, suffering and death, He prayed.

“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 

Luke 22:42

Jesus was not afraid of the known unknown. He knew what was about to happen, and Luke, the Physician, wrote…

He prayed more fervently, and He was in such agony of spirit that His sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.

Luke 22:44

♥ Pray that your loved one would come to know that God truly is greater than their fear.

I didn’t believe God was greater than my fear until He proved it to me by graciously giving me everything I needed while lived through some of my greatest fears.

And one day at a time, He gave me the strength to keep going and peace that I couldn’t begin to understand.

And gradually, I began to realize that He really was with me … I didn’t have to be afraid anymore. G

I started to realize things that used to terrify no longer upset me … not because some quip on a church sign or picture on Pinterest said so but because God was giving me strength and peace when I needed it most.

As I prayed and others prayed for me, I focused more on Jesus than on fearful “what ifs.”

Who needs you to pray for them today?

Verses to Pray for a Loved One Struggling with Fear

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:20

Jesus, __________ is struggling with fear. Please help them to know You are always with them … that You will never leave them nor forsake them. Help __________ know you understand their fear and how very much You love them.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11:28–29

Jesus, fear is a difficult burden … it is exhausting. __________ needs Your help. Fear-filled thoughts keep them from getting the rest they need. Please help them and fill them with Your peace.

You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”

Psalm 32:7–8

Father, be my __________’s hiding place; protect them in this time of trouble and surround them with songs of victory. Guide them along the best path for life. Advise them and watch over them.

Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6b–7

Father, Please give _________ Your hard to understand peace. Help them remember the big and small things You have done … ways You have blessed, helped, and protected. By Your grace, increase __________’s faith and help them turn to You in prayer whenever they’re afraid.

And please help my loved one remember…

Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear. 

1 John 4:18a

Father, You are the perfect love who casts out fear. Thank you for demonstrating Your love through Jesus, who suffered our punishment so we know Your love and never have to be afraid again. Amen.

Friend, when someone you love is struggling with fear … listen and pray!

Because the truth is…

God really is greater than our fears!

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  1. Michele Morin says:

    So much wisdom here.
    The truth is that bad things (sometimes VERY bad things) happen to us on this fallen planet.
    And God is with us in them. Even while there is much to fear, there is much grace and help available.

  2. Your memory of being “abandoned” at age two sure struck a chord with me, Deb. So many times, the sources of our fears happen at an age when adults don’t think we can possibly remember the event, but we do, and it can affect our outlook on life for many years to come.
    And your advice here is spot on for helping ourselves and others cope with our fears.
    Blessings, my friend!

  3. Tammy L Kennington says:

    This is such an insightful, compassionate post. I, too, have struggled with fear and my own son often becomes overwhelmed by it. The prayers are beautifully written and powerful, Deb.
    Thank you for writing this article.

    Peace and grace,

  4. Lauren Renee Sparks says:

    I always love praying your prayers along with you. Thank you.

  5. Fear is such a difficult burden. Thank you for sharing these good prayers with us to help us trust in God and overcome our fears.

  6. Rebecca Jones says:

    I don’t like trite answers either, I have had to learn to discern fear, from just bad behavior, or being cruel, Hurting people may hurt you but that is not always the case. I have seen sheer terror and children who can watch any kind of television, in the dark , just not want to go to sleep. I also hate to hear people say they are not afraid to die, I know I was, and I knew I’d be with Jesus, thankfully, I didn’t and His peace and love, His love casts out fear.

  7. I agree with you Deb on the church signs, they can be meaningless & at times quite insulting…
    The invitation of “you’re loved & welcome here!” Is enough.

    Fear can be challenging…I just posted my fear experience in “FOMO v JOMO” above

    Remember you’re always welcome to join me in a cuppa,
    Bless you,

  8. Becca | says:

    I like that you address that although true statements can be said in a situation, they can be received as trite and disheartening. To know how you are best used in a situation is a gift, one that I’m still learning as I’ve been guilty of this myself.

    1. Becca, I think we’ve all been guilty! I’m so thankful for God’s patience and willingness to teach me a better way. Oh, that I will always be a willing student. Thanks so much and God bless you!