Mind-crippling, spine-tingling, heart-stomping fear – we’ve all experienced it at one time or another. Fears of several varieties took hold of my heart early on as a young adult, but through the years God has brought amazing freedom.

We’re not talking about the good kind of fear that alerts your spirit to an approaching enemy, that moves you into action to protect the ones you love, or that promotes a healthy respect for God. Those fears are healthy. And not all fears are irrational. Some move in and out quickly without disrupting our lives.

But what about the other kind? Where does irrational fear originate? And how do you keep those fears from taking permanent residence in your life? Here are five ways to handle irrational fear:

1. Cry Out to Jesus

Years ago as a young minister’s wife, I remember fighting a phobia whenever my husband would leave town for a revival or other commitment. The irrational fear only lasted for a short season. But one night I awoke sweating, my heart racing with panic. In those fearful moments, I did the only thing I knew to do: I cried out to the Lord. "Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!"

I’m surprised I didn’t wake my young children with those loud cries of distress. But God heard them. While I would always miss my husband, I never entertained those irrational fears again. Jesus took them from me. That was my first experience of "crying out to God," but I learned the freedom it brought.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe (Proverbs 18:10, NIV). The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry,” (Psalm 34:15, NIV). I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4, NIV).

2. Cling to God’s Word

In those dark moments when fear stalks its victims and whispers irrational thoughts, God’s Word is a light, speaking peace and unfolding the truth.

The unfolding of your words gives light (Psalm 119:130, NIV). Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105, NIV).

In my blog I repeat the truth often, about the importance of God’s Word. But it’s never trite and has become a firm belief in my heart. The Bible is not a tool we use to bang on the heads of others to convince them of our beliefs. God’s Spirit is well able to impart life-changing truths through the pages of Scripture to the seeking heart. His Word holds the keys that will set us free from fear.

It would take too many posts to tell you the many ways God’s Word has been my light, my comfort, my guide, and my counselor – through dark times, through confusing times, through hurting times – at all times. I am constantly amazed at the questions people ask about problems they face and issues they fear. And yet when I quiz them if they have consulted His Word to find answers, they often respond no. I will be the first to admit that when I’ve failed to seek God in His Word first, and instead tried to figure things out my way, the results were always discouraging and often disastrous.

3. Cast Your Cares (and Fears) on Him

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you (Psalm 55:22, NIV).

Try writing out a list of things that make your knees shake and your heart rate increase unnecessarily. Then present them to God, one by one. Irrational fears about your children? Give them – and your children – into God’s care. He made them, and He loves them far more than you ever could.

Afraid of failing? What’s the worst thing that could happen? You might be forced to trust God completely. Fling that fear on God. Fear of being alone? Fear of being rejected? Fear of dying? Fear of divorce? Fear of debilitating illness? Fear of not being a good dad or mom? Fear of people? The list of phobias may grow as you begin to identify them. When your list is complete, give all those fears to God and then rip up your sheet.