When we fear for our children

“You don’t have to be scared of school,” I overheard a young mother in cowboy boots telling her little boy as they left the store. Her toned arms, one embellished with a dainty tattoo, were wrapped around an assortment of brand new khaki pants and blue polos. School uniforms, I guessed. 

“Mrs. Johnson is your teacher, and she is a very good woman,” she said, her voice rising for emphasis. Gazing down into his wide blue eyes, she concluded, “She’s protective, and she’s smart.” 

He fiddled with the toy in his hands. She chewed her lip. I wondered who she hoped the speech would convince—the little boy about to enter kindergarten, or her, about to send her baby off to school for the first time. 

“I never used to be afraid,” another young mother confided to me as her baby played quietly at her feet, “but now I worry about everything.” 

Sickness. Accidents. Choking. Drowning. SIDS. The list of potential threats is endless, and our ability to protect our children is limited. Our love for them is fierce, and the lengths we go to protect them are long. Yet we recognize our frailties, and fear hovers at the edges of our days and chases the sleep from our nights. 

Well-meaning friends challenge us to “Trust God,” but how? Others tell us to pray, but we wonder if it does any good. 

I’ve parented for a quarter of a century and by no means do I have it figured out, but I speak as one who knows and understands. My besetting sin is worry—I’ll battle it all my life, I suspect, like Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Perhaps it came as a free gift with the Welcome Home Baby packet filled with samples of shampoo and wipes. Or maybe it has dwelt in my heart all along and only climbed into the front seat as my husband and I brought our first child home from the hospital. 

I speak to you young mothers, and older ones, too, not as a theologian, but as a Christian mama walking the path with you. 

Here are two ways to fight worry: 

1. Get to know God. 

The more you know God, the more you will trust him. The more you trust him, the less fearful you will become. 

“But bad things happen to people who know and love God,” you may say, and you are correct. Bad things do happen to people who know and love God. Bad things also happen to people who don’t know and love God. 

Knowing God isn’t a magic charm to protect us and our children from harm, but when we know God, we have someone to run to. He gives us truth to help make sense of this world, weapons to combat the forces of evil, and wisdom to make wise choices. Best of all, he gives us a rock on which to stand when the entire world seems to be sinking sand. 

2. Learn to pray. 

Prayer doesn’t keep all harm from our lives, but it allows us to partner with God to affect the world around us. “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective,” James 5:16 tells us. Jesus instructed his followers, “When you pray . . . ,” and the Holy Spirit through Paul challenged believers to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17). Through prayer we battle the spiritual forces of wickedness, the evil intents of mankind, and the foolishness of others. 

Stormie Omartian, in The Power of a Praying Woman Bible, says this: “The battle for our lives, and the lives and souls of our children, our husbands, our friends, our families, our neighbors, and our nation is waged on our knees. When we don't pray, it's like sitting on the sidelines watching those we love and care about scrambling through a war zone, getting shot at from every angle. When we do pray, however, we're in the battle alongside them, approaching God's power on their behalf. If we also declare the Word of God in our prayers, then we wield a powerful weapon against which no enemy can prevail.” 

 By getting to know God, we understand his heart. When we understand his heart, we have faith to pray. And when we pray, we are able to say, “Here are my requests, God. I trust you to do what’s best.” 

Fear is destructive—it steals the joy from our present and from our future. Prayer is constructive—it brings peace to our present and to our future. 

And so, young mothers and old ones, too, how do we keep from being afraid? We get to know God, and we learn to pray. It takes a moment to say, and a lifetime to learn. I hope you’ll join me on the journey. 

How do you combat fear? What are your favorite Scripture passages or promises to claim during fearful times? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. 

“Do not be anxious about anything,” Paul encouraged the Philippian believers, “but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:6-7)

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