When Panic Attacks

“For I have given them the words you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.” John 17:6

Once, during a time of acute anxiety, I chose to confide in my doctor.

After listening to me, he wrote out a prescription and handed it to me. The only words on the paper were “Isaiah 41:10.”

He explained that the night before his final medical exams, panic had throttled him. He called friends for prayer. They gave him Isaiah 41:10,

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

His panic receded as he let the message of this passage soak in. The next day he passed his exams.

When fear assaults, many feelings can flood in and obsess us. What spiritual machete can we use to hack through the tangle of terror to create a clearing for the reality that God is with us to strengthen and help us?

Is it admitting our need to other believers and asking for their prayers?  Possibly. What about a command to ourselves to “Just stop it and have faith?” That could be effective. You can practice taking charge of your thoughts.

Would a cry to God for help work?  Of course.  Romans 8:26 says,

The Spirit helps us in our weakness.”

He is the helper who comes alongside us to settle the panic.

The prescription my doctor gave me still is valid. I have discovered it helps to remember what God, Himself, declares in Isaiah 41:10 — that I should “Fear not, for I am with you.” It helps me to have, what I call, a stake-out on spiritual authority. I am following Jesus’ example when, in Matthew 4:10, he resisted evil in the wilderness by quoting Scripture. As it did with my doctor, soaking in a Bible verse that the Spirit recalls to me can calm the anxiety.

Stay with the Word of God. Never be embarrassed by how often you have to dismiss your feelings of doubt or dismay. Your job is to return to thinking of the truths God has given you.

Gracious God, help us to be willing to release our instinctive ways of reacting to crises. By Your Holy Spirit, remind us that you are right beside us. May we humbly accept your strength and your help in times of fear. Amen.

By Sue Braid
Used by Permission

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Further Reading

Peace or Panic? – by Katherine Kehler

Panic or Faith – by Carol Bellemore

When Fear Takes Over – by Karen Woodard