Covid-19 Devotionals

What Does the Bible Say About Panic?

Today was one of those days … I preached and recorded my service/sermon for tomorrow. I was all done by 2.20pm. Then, we prepared lunch and decided to sit in the lounge and watch some TV whilst we ate. After the meal, I decided to edit the service/sermon, splicing in all the slides for readings and sermon heading, etc. But, I could not find the recording on the iPhone!

Did I panic? Yes, immediately … until I remembered to trust God and redo the recording. Once again, I set up everything in the dining room. Before the recoding I went to the bathroom and, whilst there, I believe the Lord put a thought into my mind. Nathan wanted an up-to-date picture of me for the webpage. I asked Jenny to take it on the iPhone. After a few practice shots which I deleted, we had the best one for Nathan. The thought the Lord put into my mind was to go and check the iPhone again. Look into the “deleted pictures section”. I did just that and … yes … you guessed correctly, I found the recoding right there. After pressing a button or two, I was asked: “Do you want to save this video?” I pressed “yes” and the recording was saved where I could find it easily. Praise the Lord!

My issue was that I panicked! I panicked because it is quite an involved story to set everything up, re-record, pack everything away and then do the editing. When one uploads a video to YouTube, the iPhone first goes through the process of preparing for the upload and only then does the upload take place. Depending on the amount of people using Telkom data at that moment, an upload could take between one to almost three hours (I still do not have a fibre connection). Jovially, I would say: “The Bible says ‘don’t worry’ but it never says ‘don’t panic.’” There is another word the Bible uses though … It is “anxiety/being anxious”. Do you find you panic/become anxious at times? Why do you panic/become anxious? What are the circumstances when you do? Although I’m not talking about panic attacks, the Mayo Clinic website says a panic attack is “a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause.” Anxiety or fear amounts to panic for many people.

Arthur Somers Roche said, “Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all others thoughts are drained.” The man of great faith, George Muller, said, “The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.” So be it panic, fear or anxiety, when given free rein it will destroy your faith because it will dominate and possess your mind and cripple your spirit, which will eventually sap your strength and energy. This happened to King David. For whatever the reason, he was in an awful mess … he says in Psalm 40:

Ps 40:2 He [God] lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire …

We lose much of the teaching of Scripture because we live far away from the environment and culture of that day. It seems the “pit” David speaks of is a prison. Often the prisons in those days were dugouts in the ground. They were pits with no doors except a hole in the top which served as a door and a window. Its ‘floor’ area was filthy and revolting and smelt terrible. All waste of every form was dumped on that cold, watery, dirty, sandy floor. If it rained, the water would either rain into this pit or the gathered waters would find its way into the opening in the ground. A number of these “pit prisons” were carved into the soil. Prisoners would lose their mind and shout and scream loudly. Often these pits were called ‘pits of noise’. This was, if not the actual environment for David, his mental state … dark, dreary and depressed!

Now here’s the thing … see what he does in this ghastly condition:

Ps 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD, He turned to me and heard my cry.

Although the “patience” comes before “cry”, this verse is saying that David prayed … crying to God for help and mercy because his condition was horrendous! He knew where to go for help … to his God, and his God was the only one who could, would and was able to help him in that sad state he found himself in. As he prayed (cried), he exercised patience! Patience is a peculiar thing! Patience does not ignore the environment and the suffering. Patience does not switch off to, “whatever will be will be … even disaster or death”. Patience is driven by prayer because prayer is trusting God for the impossible … but it is more! Patience includes faith that prayer will be answered and a satisfactory result will be at hand. We might even say … patience has confidence in God to do what is best for me in my situation! Another way of putting it is that patience is praying “believing prayers”. This teaching ought to be a huge encouragement to every Christian … especially those who tend to panic, fear and struggle with anxiety! On another occasion, David faced another enemy that caused great fear:

1Sa 21:12 David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. 13 So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.

With the possibility of him, as the great warrior of Israel, being executed in the worst way and being dragged through the street with his head being removed and his body hung on a tree for the vultures to eat … he acted as though he was a madman! This text says nothing about prayer … yet once delivered, David writes a Psalm of Praise:

Ps 34:4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

In his crisis he turned to God … reached out to God … cried to God (sought), and God rescued him from “all [his] fears”. Everything he panicked about whilst with king Achish … he was delivered from! Prayer must be coupled to action.

Dear God, thank You that You are closer to me than I will ever know. Thank you for being a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God. When I’m fearful, anxious or panicking, help me to trust You completely for help. And Lord, help me to accept the way You answer my prayers so that You will be glorified. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

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