A panic attack is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) as:
… an abrupt and discrete experience of intense fear or acute discomfort, accompanied by symptoms such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, trembling, and worries about going crazy, losing control or dying.
Did you know that 8-10 percent of the population has panic attacks, or that in 5% it becomes a disorder, occurring without any obvious stimulus, making the attacks even more terrifying? In these cases it isn’t just a rush of anxiety, like most of us might experience from time to time. No, these patients describe it as the most frightening event they have ever experienced. Research has discovered leads to what causes a person’s first panic attack, as well as some clues about how to avoid an attack in the first place. The simplified version is that panic attacks often result…
…when our normal “fight or flight” response to imminent threats—including increased heart rate and rapid breathing—is triggered by “false alarms,” situations in which real danger is absent.
The good news for those who suffer this chronic disorder is, first, all panic attacks are triggered by known events, even though the person may not be aware of those events. Knowing this can often reduce the anxiety stemming from a sense of unpredictability. Second, though it is affirming to learn the attack is caused as a misfire of the fight-or-flight response when there actually is no danger.
In a culture spawning “fake” news, political corruption, excesses and entitlements, it’s little wonder that we all don’t run into the ocean, screaming in a wild panic. I’m sure that we could learn quite a bit from a shepherd boy, if we only would. Just because things look dangerous, or complicated, or “glass-half-empty,” (or completely empty), doesn’t mean God sees it this way. If only we could see the world, ourselves, and our situations through God’s eyes, I believe it would make a huge difference in our lives. Maybe we wouldn’t become panicked quite so much.
The key to David’s life was his ability to not see things as they are, but to view them as God sees them. Enter Goliath, a huge 9 ft. tall giant of a man, hardened by war, trained in battle. He wears armor plated garments, has both spear and sword, and a shield to ward off enemy attacks. He bellows at the top of his lungs, the wild ravings of the blood-thirsty heathen that he is. And every time he does so, to a man in the camp of Israel, they are trembling in a crazed panic.
Along comes David bringing food to his brothers in the army of God. Upon hearing Goliath’s threats and railings, David’s response is not flight, it is fight. It’s not an imagined danger, it is very real. It is tangible. It is death with a face on it. Yet, David’s instant response to the Israelite men trembling in panic was:
1 Samuel 17:26
Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”
I can almost hear it in David’s voice. The overwhelming confidence that God will not stand for His people to be challenged in this way without retribution. God will not allow for the heathen to cast dispersions and heresies about Him without punishment. David is clearly not panicked. (1 Samuel 17) How did God use David’s confidence to demonstrate His own sovereign control, authority, and covenant presence? Watch. After using his trusty slingshot to nail the giant with a stone from the river…
1 Samuel 17:51
Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.
Now it’s the Philistine army’s response to be panicked, and well they should.
So, here’s the thing. The thing, event or circumstance that frightens you most right now, whether cancer, relationship struggles, financial difficulties, or emotional strains to difficult even to talk about; hear me… God is still in control. The authority of His word still stands. His covenant presence with you is designed to annihilate the panic that so easily sets in to destroy us. Here are God’s simple words to avoid becoming panicked:
Be still, and know that I am God. I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.
If you liked this blog post feel free to share it on your Facebook page. Send me a “friend” invite on my FB account or sign up by email to follow my blog!