Playing around sewing machines was a dumb thing to do, even for a four-year-old. Too much running and not enough looking eventually causes accidents and mine was a big one. The shelf for holding the fabric was just above eye level and I hit it hard, felt the pain and started screaming. Blood was spurting everywhere. Normally sane adults were panic-stricken as I found myself being thrown into a car and rushed to the local hospital emergency room.

"He'll need four stitches just over his left eye," said the doctor. The three adults who brought me all nodded in agreement. Of course, I didn't know any of this. Instead, I saw a big man walking toward me to cover my head with a sheet. (They did that in those days!) Blind and scared, I did what only comes natural for a four-year-old in a fix. I kicked and screamed my bloody head off.

They told me later that one man held my head, another lay across my body while several more held a leg or an arm, all as the poor doctor applied the local anesthetic and three stitches. What made this experience so memorable, however, was what happened next: just after the surgeon finished, I sat up and looked around the room and with a smile proclaimed: "That didn't hurt!"

The adults involved laugh about the story now, but at the time, they wanted to give me a demonstration of real pain by tanning my backside! The question is: Why was I so frightened? Was I just a wimp? (Please don't answer. My ego is fragile enough already!)

I was frightened partly because of the real pain caused by the head injury but in addition there was the fear of something unknown represented by the sheet covering my eyes. The combination made for one scared little boy. The reality, however, wasn't nearly as bad as I feared. So, after the sheet was removed and the ordeal was over, I could smile (while everyone else groaned) and confidently say: "That didn't hurt!"

Let's face it, we all face situations which cause pain but the real danger comes when we combine the actual pain with the imagined fear of the unknown. This becomes a formula for disaster.

The boss wanders into your office unexpectedly and asks to meet with you in the morning.

Your doctor calls and wants to discuss your latest test results personally.

A good friend has become more distant lately with no explanations.

How would you respond? Would you spend a sleepless night worrying? Would you stomp into the boss's office with bags under your eyes and a fiery disposition demanding an explanation? Maybe there would be a few late night phone calls to friends while you cry over imagined tragedies? Would you visit a local tavern or liquor store and quietly drink your troubles away?

We get scared of the unknown and respond by kicking and screaming instead of trusting in God to see us through. Here are some realistic spiritual remedies to help calm your fears:

  • I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me, freeing me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4).
  • "So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life — whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don't need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not" (Matthew 6:25-27).
  • Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that his love has not been perfected in us (1 John 4:18).

1. Pray to the Lord.

2. Don't worry about everyday life.

3. Perfect love expels all fear.

A friend advised: "Larry, if you can learn to replace your all night worry sessions with just a few hours of heartfelt prayer, you'll begin to feel better and likely get more sleep."

Can we ease our fears with prayer and a promise from God? Of course you can. Try it for yourself! In the end, God offers the unique opportunity to face our troubles with boldness and say to the world: "That didn't hurt!"