If you've ever had to deal with fear, you know that just a word, a thought, a noise, an unexpected call or visit can strike panic in your heart.

And with that panic, something can happen in your body. There's a tension, a fluttering, a sick feeling. You don't want to feel this way, but you can’t seem to control your body's response.

All of a sudden your joy is gone. It's like sitting in the sun when one minute everything's bright and sunny, and the next moment the warmth is gone. One minute you're toasty warm, and the next minute you're chilled. Wrapping your arms around yourself, you look heavenward, and you understand the change — a black cloud has covered the sun.

1 John 4:18 says, "fear has torment" (KJV). That's the way it is with fear — joy, peace, security are suddenly obliterated by its chilling cloud. What do you do? How do you get your body under control? How do you handle the fear without falling apart? If you can't control fear's cause, can you even hope to handle fear's consequences?

The days in which we live are so difficult and so full of uncertainty, that I want us to be sure we know how we're going to handle them with all they may bring.

What can you do when fear strikes?

First, you need to "be still, and know that He is God" (Psalm 46:10, KJV). When fear hits, your first tendency is to react: to run; to call; to take some sort of action; even if it's screaming, crying, or getting hysterical. "Be still" can be translated "cease striving." The Christian life is to be one of rest, resting in Who He is, in what He has promised. For this, you have Jesus. Remember: The Son is behind the cloud.

Rest — cease striving. Call upon El Shaddai, your all-sufficient Father. He says, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last" (Revelation 1:17). He's there before the fear comes; He'll not leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5-6). He's your Helper, and He will be there when it's all over — ever the same.

Second, as you get still, remember that over and over in the Word when God tells us to "fear not," in the same breath He also tells us why. He says, "I am the Lord," "I am with thee," "I am thy shield," etc. Fear not because your God is "I AM." He is everything and anything you'll ever need. "I AM" is His memorial name to all generations — even to ours (Exodus 3:14-15). God is never anything less than He has been in the past, and He never moves from His throne. He is in charge. He knows the cause of your fear, and He is there for you.

Third, remember you are of great value to God. Fear Him alone. Reverence Him. Believe Him. Trust Him. Don't listen to any other voice or suggestion of condemnation. Whatever has come will ultimately be used to make you more like Jesus. "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows'" (Matthew 10:28-31).

Fourth, when you become still and cease striving, when you realize He is there for you, that He is sufficient, and that you are precious to Him, seek Him. When David feared Abimelech, he wrote, "I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant [the Son never ceases to shine], and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles (Psalm 34:4-6). Ask God what to do and wait to hear His answer.

Fifth, as soon as possible, get into the Word of God. If you don't know where to turn in the Word and God doesn't lay any specific passage on your heart, turn to Psalms. The Psalms are there for occasions such as these, for in them you will find His consolations. "When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul." (Psalm 94:19). Find refuge in God and His infallible Word. Read until His peace mounts guard around your mind, heart, and soul.

Hear God say, "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10).

Fear not, little sheep, our Shepherd is there. Someday when you turn around, you'll see that goodness and mercy were following you all the days of your life (Psalms 23:6).

Kay Arthur
Host, Precepts for Life
Co-CEO, Precept Ministries International