Peace – Absent from disturbance (worry, fear, panic); Present with a quiet and calm state of mind. (Webster Dictionary)
Panic – A sudden sensation of fear, which is so strong as to dominate (control) or prevent reason and logical thinking, replacing it with overwhelming feelings of anxiety (worry). (Wikipedia)
Our world is experiencing events like most of us have never faced — the Coronavirus pandemic, political unrest, riots, crime, financial crisis, unemployment, despair, confusion, etc. Any and all of these can cause panic. Recently, I talked with a young mother of two school age children. She told me that she had begun experiencing panic attacks because of all the unrest and uncertainly in our country. She worries about her children’s education, inability to socialize, being unable to assemble normally to worship, her husband’s employment, and what the future holds. She longs for the life before the Pandemic. Probably most of us can identify with her feelings of panic. I know I have been there. The unknown and unexpected can be very scary. Yes, at times, life events can cause panic. No one is exempt from trouble, heartache, grief, pain and loss. “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). It is not a question of, “If tribulation comes,” but “When tribulation comes.” Even for a Christian, there will be times of deep hurt, sorrow, confusion, and unexpected tribulation. During these times there may be panic, but God will and can replace the panic with peace.
Look at the verse again. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Amid tribulation, peace is possible. How can we have peace? “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled (panic), neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). True peace can only come from God. Some things can happen that you did not cause and you cannot change. So what can you do?
Change Your Focus
I’ve learned that severe panic attacks can cause intense fear, shortness of breath, shaking, sweating, not being able to move, or a feeling that something bad is going to happen (Wikipedia). I’ve also learned that a help for these attacks, mild or severe, is to be still, to breathe slowly, deliberately, and to change your focus. What should be our focus?
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.”
— Isaiah 26:3-4
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true…are honest…
are just … are pure… are lovely…are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
— Philippians 4:8
Do I always have perfect peace? I will admit that I do not. Do I sometimes drift into the panic mode? Yes, I do. It usually comes when I am trying to fall asleep. The trap of “What if” thinking caused by some news I’ve heard during the day regarding our nation, or a situation over which I have no control regarding personal issues, family, local events, responsibilities, etc. begin to invade my mind. That thinking causes panic and steals my rest and peace. During these times, I’ve learned to change my focus. In fact, as in Isaiah 26:3,4, keeping my mind stayed on the LORD JEHOVAH has been my help to overcome. Also, Philippians 4:8 with the command at the end to, “think on these things” has become a focus for me. I think on things that are true and that dispels the false “What if” thinking causing my panic.
God’s Command and Remedy
“Be careful for nothing (don’t worry/panic); but in every thing
by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests
be made known unto God. And the peace of God,
which passeth all understanding, shall keep (guard)
your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
— Philippians 4:6-7
The Bible is clear, we are not to worry or panic about anything. The Lord’s remedy is to pray, letting our requests and concerns be made known to Him. Along with asking, we are to give Him thanksgiving. This combination, praying and thanksgiving, promises peace that passes our understanding.
Peace or Panic
We cannot always control what is happening, but we can control how we respond. We cannot change or control others, but we can change ourselves. Often our change will effect change in others. It is natural to try to work things out ourselves, but most often that is impossible. There comes a time when we need to stop trying and begin trusting. “Casting all your care (panic) upon him; for he careth for you” (I Peter 5:7). Some things are too much for us to carry. He asks us to roll it over upon Him. Again, “Be careful for nothing (don’t panic): but in every thing by prayer… let your requests be known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep (guard, monitor) your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). The Lord can replace your panic with His peace.
Remember God’s Promise
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). To be honest, sometimes this promise is the only thing that gets me through life’s trials. When panic intrudes my life, it helps to recall God’s promise. The problems may not go away, but they do not rob me of His peace. Recently I learned that if my trials persist with no relief, it means God is still working them for my good, and that good will come. A quote from a friend who experienced deep sorrow over the loss of her daughter has been an encouragement to me, “I am so grateful for the One thing that doesn’t change… God’s Word. Also, for the One person who is the same today, yesterday, and forever.” Remembering that can replace “your” panic with “His” peace.
Panic replaces Peace
Peace replaces Panic
This is written because I care…Carlene