Help with our fears
by Gill Hartley
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To reflect on how God can help us to overcome our fears.
Preparation and materials
- None required.
- Ask the children whether they are frightened of anything. Ask for a show of hands before asking if any of the children would like to share what they are frightened of.
Listen to a range of responses.
If possible, share an appropriate personal fear, or a friend or family member’s fear.
- Ask the children what might make them feel less frightened.
Listen to a range of responses.
Responses might include the following.
- Having the thing that frightens them taken away.
- Taking action against the frightening thing.
- Having someone to talk to about it so that they can share their fear.
- Steer the children towards the importance of sharing our fears with people we trust.
Ask them whether they have ever shared a fear and had someone say something like, ‘Don’t be so silly!’
Ask the children how they felt or might feel if someone responded to their fear in this way.
- Ask the children what we can do when there is no one to share our fears with. Remind the children that many people believe that God is always ready to listen to their fears and help them to overcome them.
- Tell the story of Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14.23-32), either from a modern children’s Bible or using the version below. Introduce it as a story from the Bible about someone becoming afraid.
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 cross over to the other side of the lake. After Jesus had seen the last person into the boat, he went up into the hills to pray to his father God.
Night fell. 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, so in the early hours of the morning, he went out to them, walking on the water.
When Jesus’ friends saw him coming towards them across the surface of the water, they were terrified. They knew perfectly well that people can’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. However, as he began to look around him, 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?’
- Discuss the story with the children, bringing out the following points.
- Peter knew that Jesus had special powers. He had no doubt that Jesus would be able to help him walk on water.
- All the time that 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 surveyed the wind and waves, he became afraid and his fear made him sink.
- Explain to the children that God does not want them to practise walking on water – it is impossible and dangerous! – 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 out the third verse of the song, ‘Lost and found’ (Come and Praise, 57).
Think of times we lose our nerves,
We’re feeling sad and no one cares:
An empty feeling deep inside,
There’s nowhere else for us to hide.
That’s the time to call a friend
Whom we can never lose again:
There’s one friend who is very near,
A friend who takes away our fear.
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.
Please help us to bring comfort and courage to the people we meet.
‘Lost and found’ (Come and Praise, 57)
‘When I am older’ from the film Frozen 2, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6StR2pNLTM (2 minutes long)