Overcoming the spirit of fear with children

July 28, 2023 • 6 min
Overcoming the spirit of fear with children

“What do you want the judge to decide in court tomorrow?” my daughter asked.

“Whatever God wants, I want.”

“But what do you think will happen?”

“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know,” I answered, feeling my chest tighten. And then it came—that oh-so-familiar heart flutter, signaling an anxiety attack.

Since we’ve become a foster family, I’ve grown accustomed to this dance. Heat washed over my body, so I hastily kissed her forehead, tucked her into bed, and rushed to my room to strip off my clothing. I stretched out on the bathroom floor, the cold tile stopping my body from sinking into a deeper pit of panic. Breathe, Jenna, breathe. 

Even in the unknown

When I made it to my bed an hour later, collected and dressed, an uneasy feeling sat in my stomach. We had been through many unknowns during our foster family journey, but court dates were always the hardest. They determined if our precious foster daughter would remain with us for six more months or return to her biological family. Foster families aren’t privy to the inner workings of a judge’s decisions, so the answer I gave my daughter was honest. I really didn’t know what would happen. 

But was this really the best answer I could give her? Clearly the answer unnerved me, so how had it affected her innocent twelve-year-old heart? And how many times had I said, “I don’t know” to her in the past year—the year of a pandemic, distance learning, masking, vaccine debates, and social unrest? 

My daughter was worried, and I failed to give her any reason not to be. Our children are looking to us for assurance and peace. I realized every time I express worry or fear in front of my children over the unknown, I’m silently communicating, “I don’t fully trust Jesus in this situation.” 

Emmanuel: God with us

This may be hard for you to hear. Maybe you’re thinking, It’s natural to worry; it’s human nature. True, but we are called by God to die to our flesh and take on a new spirit. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV). 

Our kids need more than “I don’t know.” 

Not being sure of what will happen in the future does not take away from the certainty of Emmanuel, God with us. So let this be our focus! Ministering this truth to our kiddos (and ourselves, if we are honest) is vital in helping them learn to let go of worry. God’s presence gives us peace, courage, and confidence. God’s Word reveals this to us through the many examples of  his followers. Because they knew God was with them, they did incredible things to set aside their worry during the unknown. 

Moses and peace

God asked Moses to lead two million Jews out of Egypt. Through it all, we see Moses’ peace was born out of knowing God was with him. His pleading for answers about what to do and say shifts to him pleading for God’s presence instead. In the midst of his angst and worry, God answered him, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14). Similarly, Jesus reminds us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). 

We may not be leading millions of Hebrews out of Egypt, but leading one third grader through Common Core math is enough to make me jump into God’s arms for peace!

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and courage

These three guys were thrown in a fiery furnace because of their faith. Then, a fourth person—none other than the Son of God—shows up in the fire. King Nebuchadnezzar is astonished, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt” (Daniel 3:25). They didn’t know if they would survive, but they were confident God was with them. This knowledge made them brave. They even declared before the king their God was able to deliver them from the fiery furnace. God reminds us again in Joshua that his presence is all we need to be courageous, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). 

Of course, the chances of our kiddos being thrown into a fire anytime soon are slim, but then again, there’s always middle school. And Jesus will be there with them too.

The disciples and confidence

They had experienced miracles, revolutionary teachings, and profound love. But after his arrest and brutal death on the cross, they fled and hid in fear (Mark 14:50). The moment Jesus wasn’t physically with them, they crumbled. When Jesus appeared to them after his resurrection, we’re told some still doubted. But his last words on earth changed all that: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b). 

After hearing these words, the disciples came out of hiding, confidently declared the gospel, and went on to spur the most profound religious movement on earth. At that moment, Jesus could have warned most of them would be martyred. He could have shown them how the story ends and shared visions from Revelation. But Jesus knew the only thing his disciples needed to face the future was himself. 

And it’s the same for us. He lovingly reminds us, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end” (Exodus 33:14 The Message). 

Affirming the truth

It was late and I risked waking my daughter up, but I couldn’t let the night continue without clarifying my statement. Tiptoeing into her room, kneeling, and brushing a wisp of hair from her cheek, I said, “Ciana, are you still awake?” 

She opened her eyes and nodded. 

“You know how I said I didn’t know what would happen in court tomorrow?”


“Well, I still don’t know. But God does. And he’s with us while we wait. He’s all we need.” 

And there it was, the cap that should cover every believer’s fear about the present and the future: it’s not what we know but who we know. Jesus is always with us—during the math test, on the soccer field, during homework (thank you, Lord!), and until the end of the age. 

I went to bed that night with a vision of Jesus sitting alone in the courtroom, waiting for the judge to arrive. He reminded me he is not a Father who waits for us empty-handed. His hands are full of everything I need for every circumstance: comfort, rest, strength, provision, compassion, wisdom, and power. His arms are ready to catch my exhausted heap of a body. It’s all there because he is there. 

Our Prince of Peace is the One who goes ahead of us. He will be with us. He will not fail us nor forsake us. We do not need to fear or be dismayed (Deuteronomy 31:8). Whatever uncertainty we are facing right now, Jesus is ready to walk with us through it. This is a truth our children need to hear just as much as we do. 

For further reading: Daniel 3:24-25, Matthew 28:17-20, Exodus 33:15-16

Consider a few extra resources:

About the Author:

Jenna Marie Masters

Jenna is a speaker and writer who lives in Southern California with her hubs, their three bio kids, and their newly adopted foster daughter! She's the "Parenting Toddlers & Tweens" writer for The Joyful Life Magazine. She also contributes to Christian Parenting, Home Front Magazine, and Truly Co and is on the writing team for The Devoted Collective.

Jenna holds a Master's/Seminary Degree in Christian Ministry and Pastoral Counseling but is only interested in using it to lead other mamas into intimacy with Christ.

Things that matter most: Jesus. Family. Fellowship. Words. Cappuccinos. Crockpots. Paper plates. Summer. Live music. Eating outside. "The Cookie" from Bristol Farms. Bluey.

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