This should go without saying, but panic never served anyone well. I cannot think of a single time when panic saved the day. If I am on the operating table, my surgeon accidentally nicks an artery, and things go south, I’d rather not have my surgeon panic. If I’m in an airplane, and a flock of Canadian geese fly into one of the engines, and the plane looks to be going south instead of the geese,, I’d rather my pilot not panic.
No, panic is not our friend. Ever.
Buzz Lightyear: “Sheriff, this is no time to panic.”
Woody: “This is a perfect time to panic!”
Nope, never. There is never a time when it is a perfect time to panic. Circumstances may suggest panic would be a reasonable response, but panic never ever solved anything. Panic never brought a desirable resolution to any situation.
I’ve seen people panic. It isn’t pretty. I have panicked before, and it is simply a terrible feeling. So I have tried really hard to get a handle on that situation. It has taken a good bit of effort, a lot of prayer, and quite a bit of growth in my faith, but I can say that I no longer easily panic. It’s not about me though, it’s about God and His work in my life.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Most of the time we panic when life veers out of our control. As long as we have a handle on our situations, then we have no need for panic. It’s not until the carpet gets pulled out from under us, and we lose control, that panic set in. Yet here’s some truth for you. I must warn you, this next bit may not calm you at all.
Life is always out of our control.
Oh, it may appear that we’ve got all our balls in the air, but that’s just parlor tricks. The reality is, we’ve never had it all under control. Think about the person who looks to you like they’ve got it all together. It’s all just smoke and mirrors, even for them.
So how do we manage to not be anxious about anything? In every situation?
Not really. Having control over our anxiety, having the ability to not panic in those perfect times to panic, have everything to do with our contentment. We are called to be content in every situation.
Are we called to love every situation we find ourselves in? Not at all, but we are called to be content. Let’s go back to Philippians, chapter four.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (vs. 11-12)
If you suddenly found yourself in dire need, could you still be content? Apparently, you can. If you couldn’t, if you didn’t have the ability to do so within you, why then, would Paul say that you do? This wasn’t a secret only available to Paul. If it was, it would be cruel for him to have shared it with us.
So how do we get that peace that passes understanding in our times of panic? Our instructions are clear. We must first calm ourselves. Take a deep breath. Take ten. Then pray and ask the Lord for His intervention. Go to the very one who actually does have everything under control. God actually does have all the balls in the air. No tricks. Then, and only then, will we feel that peace that calms the panic. We can literally be standing in a storm of circumstances and not be available to panic.
Panic loves to cause us to fail; to make bad decisions based on misinformation. Panic rarely seeks wise counsel. There’s just not time. Most of the time, panic results in more repair work that must be done after the dust settles.
Our panic affects more people than just us. It has huge ripple effects that spread to those closest to us, and it’s a poor witness to the faith we claim to have. Panic says that God is not in control of our circumstances. That what just happened caught Him off guard, and that He has no idea how to get us out of this one. But he does. God is at work on the problem before we even knew there was a problem. Romans 8:28 says it. He is working all things to our good. Even the situations that curl our toenails.
So how cool would it be if the perfect situation to panic to came along, and we just… didn’t? I’ve got to tell you, it’s great. It’s more than great. It transcends all understanding.