5 Ways to Handle Irrational Fear
by Rebecca Barlow Jordan
This morning, standing waiting for the bus, as I saw it approaching I reached into my back pocket for my wallet with my bus pass. Suddenly, fear came over me. I forgot my bus pass at home. I stepped back and watched the bus pass me by as I made my way back home to retrieve my wallet.
When I was a few seconds from my front door, I reached into my inner jacket pocket to get my phone and check the bus times, and suddenly it became clear to me. I had my wallet on me, but simply in a different pocket all along!
Although this isn’t a perfect example, Irrational fear can sometimes work in a similar way. We only have ‘part’ of the facts about a situation and react in accordance with that. But once we get ‘all’ the information, what once seemed as a just reason for fear, now seems foolish and irrational. And similar to the bus passing by, we make judgment call that cause us to miss out on opportunities because we are not fully informed with the facts.
This is what “irrational” fear is all about. It is illogical or unreasonable fear.
Mind-crippling, spine-tingling, heart-stomping fear – we’ve all experienced it at one time or another. Fears of several varieties took hold of my heart early on as a young adult, but through the years God has brought amazing freedom.
We’re not talking about the good kind of fear that alerts your spirit to an approaching enemy, that moves you into action to protect the ones you love, or that promotes a
healthy respect for God. Those fears are healthy. And not all fears are irrational. Some move in and out quickly without disrupting our lives.
But what about the other kind? Where does irrational fear originate? And how do you keep those fears from taking permanent residence in your life?
Here are five ways to handle irrational fear:
1. Cry Out to Jesus
Years ago as a young minister’s wife, I remember fighting a phobia whenever my husband would leave town for a revival or other commitment. The irrational fear only lasted for a short season. But one night I awoke sweating, my heart racing with panic. In those fearful moments, I did the only thing I knew to do: I cried out to the Lord. “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!”
I’m surprised I didn’t wake my young children with those loud cries of distress. But God heard them. While I would always miss my husband, I never entertained those irrational fears again. Jesus took them from me. That was my first experience of “crying out to God,” but I learned the freedom it brought.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry,”
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears
2. Cling to God’s Word
In those dark moments when fear stalks its victims and whispers irrational thoughts, God’s Word is a light, speaking peace and unfolding the truth.
Much like the example in the preface – knowledge is key. The more details you know about a topic from a healthy perspective, the better you are equipped for dealing with it. God’s Word prepares both our heart and mind for dealing with the experiences of every day life with more information than we can readily find in our school education system or common social life.
The unfolding of your words gives light
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path
You’ll notice I often write of the importance of God’s Word. But it’s never trite and has become a firm belief in my heart. The Bible is not a tool we use to bang on the heads of others to convince them of our beliefs. God’s Spirit is well able to impart life-changing truths through the pages of Scripture to the seeking heart. His Word holds the keys that will set us free from fear.
It would take too many emails to tell you the many ways God’s Word has been my light, my comfort, my guide, and my counselor – through dark times, through confusing times, through hurting times – at all times. I am constantly amazed at the questions people ask about problems they face and issues they fear. And yet when I ask them if they have consulted His Word to find answers, they often respond “no.” I will be the first to admit that when I’ve failed to seek God in His Word first, and instead tried to figure things out my way, the results were always discouraging and often disastrous.
3. Cast Your Cares (and Fears) on Him
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you
Try writing out a list of things that make your knees shake and your heart rate increase unnecessarily. Then present them to God, one by one.
Irrational fears about your children? Give your fears – and your children – into God’s care. He made them, and He loves them far more than you ever could.
Afraid of failing? What’s the worst thing that could happen? You might be forced to trust God completely! Fling that fear on God.
Fear of being alone? Fear of being rejected? Fear of dying? Fear of divorce? Fear of debilitating illness? Fear of not being a good dad or mom? Fear of people? The list of phobias may grow as you begin to identify them. When your list is complete, give all those fears to God and then rip up your sheet.
It also helps to do some research on your own. Find a promise in God’s Word that deals with each fear. I’ve written and placed Scripture that deals with particular issues that I struggle with in my office desk, my home in frames and plaques. I’ve heard of people who keep them in their cars, their wallets/purses, their phone, their computer wallpaper. If you are serious about overcoming your fear (which may be a question you actually need to ask yourself) then you need to be serious about the steps to overcome them as well.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you
They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord
4. Confess Your Inability and God’s Ability to Remove Those Fears
Remember who God is, and who you are – His child. He is worthy to be trusted. No matter what you’ve experienced in your Christian life so far, or how little you know about God, one thing I will stake my life on: God is beyond faithful. He has never broken a promise. He never will. Can you say that about anyone else?
God’s presence is with us – and that makes all the difference in the world. He wants us to live in freedom, not in bondage to the tentacles of fear.
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
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
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go
5. Call a trusted friend or Christian counselor to intercede for you
There are times when irrational fear attacks us suddenly, or roots itself too deep for us to handle at the moment. Having people close to you whom you confide in and are faithful to prayer for you makes all the difference in the world. Being one of those people who also has a heart to pray for others is just as important. Sometimes the Holy Spirit prompts us to pray for someone by randomly bringing that person to mind. Always try your best to take heed and act in accordance with this prompting. The body of Christ is a body made up of many members just as a human body is, and we all need each other to do our part that we can function in a healthy way as a whole.
Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective
Do not be afraid of sudden disaster…
Recognize that irrational fear does not originate with God. If you find that your phobias are ruling your life, it might be time to enlist the help of a Christian counselor. Some fears may be buried in the rubble of trauma, abuse, or other intense circumstances from your past. Find one that will use God’s Word as a guide, coming alongside you to refill the holes created by fear with God’s grace and tender love. You can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any root causes of why you might have an irrational fear and allow God to lead you to healing in that particular area of your life.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind
1 Timothy 1:7
Meditating and thoroughly understanding that fear is a spirit but more importantly, one that does not come from God will help you to begin to deal with it in a way that will begin you on the pathway to victory and freedom in this area of your life!
You are a child of the Most High God and you have authority in the Name of Jesus. You begin to walk into your identity in Him as you exercise that authority over every area of your life.
I implore you,
Special thanks to http://www.crosswalk.com