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Overcoming Fears

To reflect on how God can help us to overcome our fears

by Gill Hartley

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To reflect on how God can help us to overcome our fears.

Preparation and materials

  • Prepare the story as told below, or from a child-friendly version of Matthew 14.23-32.
  • A candle, or quiet background music, for Time for reflection, if desired.

Assembly

  1. Ask the children if any of them are frightened of anything. Would they like to tell you what it is that frightens them? Ask what sorts of things make them feel better when they are afraid. Hopefully someone will mention having someone to share the fear with - if not, give this suggestion yourself. Have they ever tried to share a fear with a friend or family member, only to be met with a response such as 'Don't be silly'? Again, hopefully, this will strike a chord with some! Ask what you can do when there is no one to share your fears with. Remind the children that many people believe that God is always ready to listen to their fears and to help them overcome them.

  2. Tell the story of Peter walking on the water, either from a modern language children's Bible or using the version below. Introduce it as a story from the Bible about someone becoming afraid.

    Peter Panics!
    by Gill Hartley
    (based on Matthew 14.23-32)

    It was late in the evening, and Jesus and his special friends had had a busy day teaching people about God. They were all tired, so Jesus told his friends to get into their boat and to cross over to the other side of the lake. After Jesus had seen the last person set off for home, he went up into the hills to pray to his father God.

    Night fell, and out on the lake Jesus' friends were in trouble. A strong wind had begun to whip up the surface of the lake into rough waves. It was a struggle to hold the boat steady. Jesus realized that they needed help, and so at about 4 o'clock in the morning he went out to them, walking on the water.

    Of course, Jesus' friends were very frightened when they saw him coming towards them across the surface of the water. After all, they knew only too well that human beings couldn't walk on water! Perhaps it was a ghost coming towards them? They screamed! Jesus heard their screams and called out to calm them down, 'It's all right! It's me!'

    Peter peered into the darkness towards Jesus and asked, 'Is it really you? If it is, tell me to come over to you, walking on the water!' 'All right,' said Jesus, 'come on then!' Peter didn't stop to think or to be afraid, he climbed out of the boat and set off across the water towards Jesus. But then he began to look around him and he saw the high waves and felt the strong wind and realized exactly what he was doing. He was afraid and he panicked. He began to sink! 'Help me, Lord!' he shrieked.

    Jesus stretched out his hand and rescued him. 'Why were you afraid?' he asked him. 'Why did you panic? Why didn't you believe that I would keep you safe?'

  3. Discuss the story with the children, bringing out the following points:
    • Peter knew that Jesus had special powers and did not question that he would be able to help him walk on water, too.
    • All the time Peter kept his eyes on Jesus he was able to overcome any fears he might have had and was safe.
    • When Peter looked away from Jesus and around at the wind and waves he became afraid and his fear made him sink.

    Tell the children that God does not want them to practise walking on water, but he is there to help us when we are afraid. If they remember that God is there, and do not panic, they can overcome their fears. Remind them that it is also a good idea to share their worries with other people and that this too can be a good way of overcoming fears.

Time for reflection

Read the third verse of the song, 'Think of all the things we lose' (Come and Praise, 57), using the candle as focus, or quiet background music, if desired.

Dear God,
Thank you for all the people who help us when we are afraid;
for our friends, our families
and all who give us the courage to overcome our fears.
Comfort everyone in the world who is afraid today
and help us to bring comfort and courage to all who need it.
Amen.

Song/music

'Think of all the things we lose' (Come and Praise, 57)

Publication date: December 2000   (Vol.2 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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