When You’re Caught in Fear’s Grip

When You’re Caught in Fear’s Grip

April 12, 2017

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side.” John 20:19-20a (NIV)

Devotion Graphic

Audrey pulled the cover over her eyes.

“Check for bears,” she said.

I checked for bears one more time. I had tried telling her there were no bears under the bed. When she persisted, I made a game out of looking. I held up a dust bunny, and we laughed because that certainly wasn’t a bear. Every time I left the room, I heard my sweet granddaughter’s trembling voice.

“Gaga, the bearrrrr.”

Finally, I climbed in the bed with her until she fell asleep, her tiny form pressed against mine.

There was no bear, but there was fear. When I pulled her closely in my arms, that fear fled.

Have you ever had someone tell you not to be afraid? They discount the feeling, because they don’t feel it. Perhaps they give advice.

The problem is, you already know that fear isn’t healthy. You know there’s no “bear” under the bed, but that hasn’t eased your anxious thoughts.

In John 20:19-20, the disciples are gripped with fear. They’d walked with Jesus for three years. They heard Him promise that He’d rise again. They sat at His feet as He assured them He’d always be with them. Yet, they also witnessed His arrest, a brutal flogging and then a tragic death on a rugged cross. They thought they were going to build a kingdom with Jesus, not attend His burial.

When the women ran to them, saying the tomb was empty, the disciples raced to the site. (John 20:2-4)

Was it a trick? Had the soldiers hid His body? Was it possible Jesus’ words came true? Unsure of the answer, they trudged back and hid behind a barred door, still bound by fear.

Jesus suddenly appeared among them in the room. The door was still barred. Their circumstances seemed to be the same, except for one thing: Jesus was with them.

There was no condemnation for their fearful thoughts. He didn’t give them a three-step plan. He didn’t point out all the truth they forgot. He simply came close. He breathed peace over their hearts. He invited them to feel His side and touch the nail prints in His hands and feet.

Fear fled, and joy overwhelmed them.

When you’re caught in fear’s grip, you may feel anxious and uncertain about what to do. That’s OK. It’s less about what you do and more about what Jesus will do for you.

Further along in John 20:21-22, we see how Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to empower the disciples after He returned to Heaven. Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.” (NIV)

There are times when I’m caught in fear’s grip where I even feel guilty or “less than.” Those feelings can keep me in hiding. But Jesus promises to breathe peace over our hearts. He invites us to come close. He reminds me that I’m not alone. That His words are true. His strength will carry me until I am no longer afraid, and He will grant courage to walk in faith, not fear.

Audrey is 4 years old now. She no longer believes a bear lives under the bed, yet other fears sometimes try to creep in. She knows if she calls for her Gaga, I’ll be there. We’ll lie close together until fear flees and peace settles in. Jesus wants to do the same for you and me.

Heavenly Father, I’ve felt shame over fear, and that doesn’t come from You. Help me find the courage to walk in faith, not fear, because the Holy Spirit is at work within me. As You speak peace over my heart, I want to receive it. Instead of hiding from You, I will turn toward You. I bring my anxious thoughts to You, for You are my strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (NIV)

Psalm 94:19, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (NIV)

Suzie Eller’s book, The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places, is a healing resource for women, no matter what you are going through.

Join Suzie on her blog for a conversation about “10 Ways to Encourage a Friend Who Struggles with Fear.”

Romans 8:1 explains how there is no condemnation for those who love Jesus. No blame. No criticism. No disapproval. No judgment! That’s good news.

Fear can lead to shame, or it can lead to Jesus. Which will you choose?

© 2017 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

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  1. Stephanie says:

    It’s in the early hours of the morning and I’m up with a sick child. This devotion was such a blessing. Praying peace over my son and my heart. Thankful for this ministry!

    • Peace be WITH You.:)

      • Glenn Martin says:

        Is what I received after reading ” fear” and its grip we allow it to have. I find that by living in the moment and by not allowing my past or future grab that moment my world stays content and at peace. When I learn to accept that all things are meant to be and things are controlled by his judgement and not mine I can find a peace that is only received by his doing and my faith. I allow his will to be my driver for my decisions and when I return to my will my life is on track for a train wreck and disappointment by him and myself. By living his will and doing what is right it allows me live with “No Fear”. God is Great Glenn Martin

    • Oh, those late nights/early mornings with little ones. I remember those days. Praying that God is close to you as you nurture and take care of that sweet child.

  2. My husband hand bypass surgery Monday. He had a heart attack. During surgery he had a stroke and now is unable to speak. He is able to move and understands. Just unable to speak. We never dreamed of course that this would happen. He just looks at me with his beautiful blue eyes and I know he wants so much to speak and ask questions. I see it in his eyes. I asked him if he was worried about me? He nodded his head yes. That’s the type of man he is. We trust our Father. We are asking everyone to pray healing and restoration over him. I will be praying the prayer from the devotion today. We will NOT live fearfully. We will believe! We are claiming it! Thank you my dear sisters and brothers in Christ and above all Thank you sweet Abba.

    • Praying for your husband, Donna! Complete healing!!

    • My heart goes out to you and your husband, Donna.. You are in a scary season. Bear in mind that your dear husband can still talk with God: “Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely” (Psalm 139:4).

      Lord, speak to Donna and her husband. Breathe your peace into them. Fill every cell in their bodies with Shalom, leaving no space for fear. Amen.

    • Donna, God is a healer and a miracle worker. Praying for complete healing for your husband and God’s amazing peace for the both of you! I also pray that God will provide amazing doctors, nurses and therapists as your husband goes through the recovery process..

    • Stephanie says:

      Praying for a supernatural healing from God for your husband today. May you both feel the presence of God with you today and throughout this healing process.

    • I just wanted you to know that I just lifted you and your husband up to the Lord in prayer. I pray especially that you and your husband will feel His peace and His comfort as you walk through this together with Him. He shall cover you with His feathers and under His wings shalt thou trust.

    • Praying for you and your husband Donna.

    • Praying for you and your husband.

    • Praying for you and your husband.

    • Prayer for you and your husband that God will be with you and heal your husbands voice! Amen

    • Brittany says:

      Sending you and your husband prayers! 🙂

    • Keshia Wright says:

      I am praying for your husband and I believe God can do all things. I recently saw a Facebook post of a lady sharing avtestimony of how a friend at a nursing home had been pronounced dead but the lady did not receive that her friend was gone. She leaned over to her and beham to say the w2 psalms to her and the lady began to move. When she told the nurse she did not believe her. The lady came back and is stI’ll with us today. Only speak scriptures to him his spirit needs it. All is well. I look forward to hea ring the praise report.

    • Praying for complete and speedy healing of your husband Donna!

    • Lord, we come together to pray for this husband. Return his body to health. Comfort him. Heal him. Tangibly touch his physical body with your healing touch. In Jesus’ name.

  3. It is well my dear Donna,praying for you and your husband!Hold on to the promises of God,he will see you through this situation
    Thank you for this devotion 💖

  4. Traci Lacayo says:

    13 years ago I went in to have my thyroid removed. While on the operating table I had a stroke. What was supposed to be 4hrs surgery turned into almost 9. When I woke up and couldnt feel my right side, I freaked out…fear overtook me…I had another stroke 2 days later.. I looked at the strokes as death sentences and I let fear overcome me, even though the dr tried to tell me that they got all the cancer. It is just now 13 years, a divorce, homelessness, some more health issues that I am learning to overcome my fear, overcome the hurt and heartache being sick has done to me. I was afraid to live, my current husband got tired of me being afraid to parasail on the florida coast or snorkel with the dolphins or even go on a roller coaster at the amusement park. You have to stop living in fear. Thats when you put your faith above your fear. I cant believe how much my fear robbed me of before learning to live in faith.

    • Traci my prayers are with you. Trust in the Lord and he will bring you peace over this .Know that prayer will bring forth the change. Stay strong

  5. Thank you for this devotional. It is a keeper. Donna, prayers and blessings to you and your husband.I have a friend who has a skin cancer and she spoke to me a few weeks ago about it. She asked for prayers by many for peace and not fear. I saw her yesterday after a doctor visit for a biopsy. She said she new prayers were said because she felt it,peace,no fear,and she was not alone. He was there. She said it was amazing.Ilove witnessing His amazing grace.power,and love.Amen

  6. This devotional was right on time as I have many sick family members in the hospital right now. My brother-in-law is in the hospital on life support fighting for his life and the doctor told my sister she will have to make a decision in two weeks which she said she can’t make. My Aunt has been in the hospital for 1 week. All exams negative however doctors still can’t diagnose her problems. She is having severe vertigo and double vision. She is feeling discouraged. Two cousins suffering from Cancer. One just admitted into​ the same hospital as my Aunt and the other home on Hospice. My mom had blood work drawn and her Thyroid level is up.Her hair falling out and Her feet were swelling and very painful about 2 wks now until she couldn’t even walk to go see her own sister in the hospital. I worry but them all but I know I shouldn’t because my Father in Heaven is a healer. I know what prayer can do.

    • RebeccaLynn says:

      I’m so sorry for all your family members who are going through such trials right now. You are right – God is our Mighty Healer, and nothing is too great for Him. I pray your family members would be wrapped in His strength and love. I pray they would cling to the courageous faith He places in hearts that say “I don’t understand, Lord – but I surrender to the truth that You are in control and You love me.” He does love each one of you – and He is with you! Sending prayers for you!

  7. This devotional was right on. This morning I was in a cycle of negative thoughts thinking that I lacked the self discipline to overcome. Thank you for pointing me back to Jesus.

  8. Jennifer says:

    I need to make a copy of this and keep it for the next time my family goes to visit Grammy and Grampy. I am left at home for some ME time. It is a 5 hour drive and I don’t handle their travel well, because all it takes is 1 person to screw up my life forever. I know I need to pray about everything (Philippians 4:6), and cast all my fears on HIM. I tend to get wrapped up in my fear and forget that HE has everything under control.

  9. Christiana says:

    This is amazingly timely…this was what I needed this morning as confirmation that God WILL bring peace. Wow. Thank you Suzie Eller, and Proverbs 31, for staying faithful to what God has asked you to do…it is a blessing to more people than you will ever know!! <3

  10. This devotional was right on time for me. I am going through a divorce due to infidelity and have had fear of moving forward and what my life will be like after 10 years of marriage. But, even though I know that God has spoken to me and told me to let go and move forward the enemy has tried over and over to keep me tied to my past with fear from what my future will be. But, I know that God doesn’t give the spirit of fear and He will give me peace as I am obedient to Him. I know that the plans that He has for me are great and all I have to do is trust Him. Thank you for this. I claim my peace today, peace in my heart and mind.

    • It took along time to heal and get through the betrayal of a divorce…13 years later I met the love of my life! A solid Christian man, and today it is so clear to me that God plucked me out of that marraige because he had bigger, better things in store. I’m sorry you are walking through the dark valleys right now. Remember he is the light! The verse he gave me after my divorce was I will restore what the locust has destroyed…I have my garden of Eden, and better yet a lifetime with our savior. Prayers to you for strength and to walk closely with him.

    • I as well going through a divorce afte 33 years of marriage. I was totally blindsided. I thought I was going to retire and enjoy life with him. I as well have that fear of being able to move on. I was was know God has a plan and it will be filled with peace as long as I keep believing and having faith.

    • Lord, your plan for her has not gone anywhere. You are with her today, and you will be with her tomorrow. Thank you for leading her, for holding her close, and for filling the gaps left by her husband’s actions. Thank you for hope in you!

  11. Heidi Mis says:

    I’ve struggled with fear and panic attacks my whole life. The what ifs keep me in a prison much of the time and has stopped me from many things. It’s a daily struggle. Today I woke up sick and that has triggered my anxiety, even hyperventilating. I pray I’ll be set free from this fear daily.

    • God, thank you for Heidi. This anxiety is not what she wants, and yet she’s strong. She gets up daily. She lives and she keeps looking toward hope. That’s faith! That’s strength. Lord, complete the work you’ve begun in her. Thank you that she goes to you, her source, and that you have marked her life. She is of value, right where she is, because of your great love for her. She is of value, on the day that she finds healing, because of your great love for her. Thank you for that love, and for walking with Heidi in every season of her life. We hold up this fear and these panic attacks and ask for intervention and wholeness, in the powerful name of Jesus.

  12. I am grateful for this devotional. I am going through a divorce after 10 years of marriage and have had fear of moving forward and what my life will be like. I know that God spoke to me and told me to let go and move forward, but the enemy has been trying his hardest to keep me from doing so. I’ve been afraid that if I let go, what will be next, who will love me and what will my life be like. But, I know that God’s plans are good for me and that He has a great future in store for me if I just be obedient and trust Him. This devotional is right on time. I will not live in fear, I will not be afraid of the future. I claim peace for my mind and heart today. Thank you for sharing this word directly from God for me!

  13. Debbie Lutz says:

    Last night my husband was at his men’s group. It began to get uncharacteristically late so I text to see if he was still there, no answer. I waited a half hour more and called, twice, no answer. I waited 15 minutes and tried the leader’s number, no answer. “He’s probably asleep”, I thought to myself. It was then that my fear went from 0-100!! I began to close up the house for the night and my mind imagined the police coming to the door. “We’re very sorry”, they would say. Then I would be alone. I began to pray for peace and wisdom and that my husband would call if he forgot. About 15 minutes later he called me to say he was on his way! I was so relieved, but had the worst happened I was already clinging to the one who would get me through.

    • RebeccaLynn says:

      I can relate, Debbie! My husband spent a year as an infantryman in Iraq – and is a full time police officer. Fear of the “knock at the door” has crippled me in the past. And I still have moments . . . but then I remember that God is sovereign and my husband’s life is now and always will be in God’s hands. Our husbands are a great gift, and God wants us to live each moment enjoying that gift – not fearing the unknown that isn’t ours to worry about anyway. God absolutely understands our fears – and there is no shame that we worry. We just have to learn to release it to Him – just like you were doing when fear was taking hold of you. Amen! xoxoxo

  14. Danielle says:

    I have struggled with anxiety and fear for as long as I can remember. It has caused anxiety attacks and kept me from doing anything at times. I am slowly, but surely, learning to embrace “letting the Holy Spirit breathe peace over me”. I am learning to live in God’s grace and accept who I am in Him. Sometimes that is so hard! But I’m finding that it is much more exhausting to live in fear and anxiousness because it’s all me…it is not from God. He gives me peace and a sound mind. Thank you Father!

  15. THIS IS SO GOOD THIS MORNING! The song I immediately started singing while reading this devotional was “Out of Hiding” by Steffany Gretzinger! If you haven’t heard or ever really listened to this song, allow the words to wash over you and just receive the peace and love of God! Have a great day!

  16. This is a perfect reminder on a morning when I’m filled with dread about the ongoing conflicts with North Korea, Russia, etc. I feel such a heavy sense of doom, like we’re finally “getting it together” and now we’re going to be punished for all of our sinful nonsense. I know that neither worry nor condemnation come from God, but it is hard to relinquish this worry even though I’m just one little citizen with no political power to do anything about the problems whatsoever. Thank you for sharing.

    • RebeccaLynn says:

      I hear you! I’ve given up watching the news – and TV altogether. It’s just my way of finding peace in what I feel is a foothold for the enemy. My life has been so much more peaceful! I still hear the news – through social media, etc. And I know who, what, and where to pray for – which is really all we need to know. The thing that’s helped me most, though, is remembering that God is in control and HIS plan is being fulfilled! Praise God! I heard someone say that we should remember not to focus on the end that’s coming – but the beginning that’s being made! Jesus Christ is preparing for a great victory that will never be taken away. In the meantime, God is setting everything in motion – and even through all the bad, He is working and His plan will be accomplished. Praise God!

      • Melissa Schaffer says:

        Rebecca I love your attitude and faith. You have a solid perspective. Thank you and your husband for sacrificing for our freedom and safety.

  17. This is such an amazing lesson. I work hard daily to run towards the Lord and he is there. A peace I pray grows daily! Thank you for this!

  18. Thanks for this devotion, Suzie! I have been in the grip of fear for almost two months now, and it is absolutely draining. I am constantly edgy, fearful, and overwhlemed. Even though God performed a red sea size miracle in my life before these two months, a new major issue has cropped up in my life, where I need to make life altering decsions. I feel paralyzed with fear… and yes… also ashamed and running away from Jesus. I need Christ’s peace, for it is only then I can be courageous to make such a life altering decision without fear. Take heart, ladies, we have the Creator of the Universe on our side!!!

  19. I don’t know what happened to my previous comment…sorry if it was half-sent ha! I was trying to say thank you for reminding me at the perfect time that fear can bring shame or fear can bring peace and joy if we let Jesus hold us through it! I needed this today!

  20. Oh, how I needed this. I’ve been praying for healing for more than 10 years and sometimes when the pain is bad, the fear is almost overwhelming. I have no doubt that God can heal me. But fear causes anxiety which then compounds the problem. Thanks Suzie for your faithfulness in serving Him.

    • Lord, I stand with my sister today and boldly ask for healing in her body. Thank you for her faith, for her fighting spirit, and for the joy she brings to you.

  21. Perfect timing as my sister in law is the hospital this morning and fear has been trying to settle in.

  22. Deena Maga says:

    Yes, I needed this becuase I am in a moment of transistion and I really do know what to do I am a bit scared, and I need the hand of God to move in my life and towards my favor, so this message is really good for me and if you can pray that would really help.

    • Father, you are with us always. That’s your promise. That’s our strength and anchor. Even in transition, you are there, and our purpose does not go away. Thank you for Deena and for your great love for her. Thank you for being with her today, and tomorrow, and every day thereafter.

  23. maria saddler says:

    God is healing my broken heart
    But I still cry every morning
    Help me God

    • Lord, heal this wounded heart. Fill the gaps. Take up residence in those broken places, and redeem them for your purposes. We surrender to your love and healing power, and thank you for Maria’s courage and faith as she holds close to you.

  24. Sally Ann Price says:

    The Lord helps me through everyday of my life. He is our Father above all creation. Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for all of our sins and was risen on the third day. Lord when I am feeling depressed or sad lift me up. Your are my guiding hand.

  25. My biggest fear is that I will never hear my estranged daughters voice again and when this fear rises I remind myself that God is good, he wants only good for me and I need to trust his plan.

  26. I am so grateful for this message and for each Pr. 31 messages of late. Each has it’s own theme, yet they all relate to one another.
    This was yet another blessing letting us know that we all do fear from time to time and He does not condemn us for anxiety and fear, but wants to breathe peace over those things. Thank you for bringing the light into those dark places, dispelling the lies and condemnation.

  27. Great devotional! This is a great reminder that GOD does not give us a spirit of fear. Fear comes from the enemy!

    Thank you JESUS for how you love us!!

  28. Merle Nursten says:

    I have for a very long time operated from a place of fear…fear of the known, fear of my past, fear of the future, financial fear blah blah. It is so exhausting, debilitating and quite pointless… Because my heavenly father has a great plan for me and when I begin to feel this fear I try say to myself No Merle, God has the most amazing g plan for you now get up and go see what’s exciting about your day today because your Father has something so exceptional in store for you this very day!! I make it sound like it’s so easy and I know its not, especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed but I do know without a doubt that operating from fear instead of faith gets me nowhere. And yes, someone mentioned that peace that comes – when I don’t have it I yearn for it. Xx

    • I love your faith!

    • I, too, Merle have operated from a place of fear for…I really don’t know how long. I wasn’t even really “aware” that it had kind of taken me over. Somewhere it started, and boy did it take hold. I think it’s from circumstances that happen and even though it was only the Lord who got me through, somehow I’ve tried to protect my own self from…I don’t know what. I don’t know if it matters where or how it began, I only know the Lord does not want me to live this way any longer. Only He can change my mind, my thoughts. Help, Lord.

  29. Susan G. says:

    Thanks for this Suzie.
    The enemy uses fear to take our focus away from Jesus, who is the answer to every fear we have…

  30. Priscilla Simon says:

    Thankyou so much for this message.

  31. Rhoda Cormier says:

    Just have to say reading this passage was like a nail on the head today and at the same time so eerily true today. May this also encourage more people who struggle with the same things…God is good.

  32. I needed this today. I have been having anxiety attacks all week and on and off for two years and the fear of them is gripping and escalates them. Its a terrible experience and I’m having a difficult time trusting God. I’ve been praying for healing for two years and it hasn’t come; I feel forsaken.

    • Nadine, I know how you are feeling. Just know that you are not alone, and it can happen as a result of something physical, emotional, spiritual, or all three. I have found that counseling, journaling, and yoga have helped with my emotions. Going to church, reading the Bible, and reading P31 devotions every morning have helped with my spirituality. Physically, I have avoided carbs & sugars for the past few months and replaced it with unsweetened yogurt, veggie burgers, salmon, salads, fresh veggies/fruits, black beans, avocados, fresh garlic, nuts, coconut, just any foods that are low carb, low sugar, high fiber, high protein, high fat (don’t be afraid of that). You also need a good probiotic because true health starts in your gut.
      I pray these things help you as they’ve helped me!

      • Yes I’ve been doing a lot of the same. I also found out yesterday from a holistic doctor that I have a thyroid dysfunction. May be worth looking into for you? We’re all here to help and support each other! And happy to share what the doctor has to say with you.

  33. Wow this is so beautifully written…I will be saving it to reread in the future. Thank you for this gift you shared with us all.
    Blessings ❤

  34. Thank you for this devotional. What a precious glance into this week for the disciples and how it relates to our places of fear. I am struggling off and on with fear as I worry about my husbands job. We are a one income family. He is in the running for a perfect job for him, but as we wait we waiver between fear and walking in His peace. Esp. my husband. Please pray for us as we wait and for God’s provision. Thank you.

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