In full disclosure, this post won’t give you the solution to overcoming panic. But maybe it will give you a different perspective.
I have struggled with panic for over twenty years. Considering I’m not that old, that means, most of my life has been impacted by panic and panic attacks in some way, shape or form. I have also loved God with a passionate love for ALL of that time.
I have had well intending Christians tell me that I need more faith or that I’m not trusting God. Even that my behavior was (is) sinful.
Does having panic negate my faith? Does it mean that I don’t love God enough to obey Him when I’m struggling to breathe in the checkout line? If I have to fight through feelings of fear in order to watch my son’s basketball game, does that mean I don’t know the peace that passes understanding?
A LITTLE BIT OF BACKGROUND
I was raised in a Christian home and taught from a very young age to love, obey, and fear God.
I pretty much lived a straight and narrow life, not veering off-the-beaten-path too much. I wanted to serve God from an early age, and I even felt called to be a missionary as a little girl. (I ended up a pastor’s wife, so not too far off base!)
Loving and serving God seemed as natural to me as breathing.
AND THEN MY LIFE CHANGED FOREVER
My life was knocked off its axis the day I had my first panic attack! It came out of nowhere. I struggled to breathe, to keep my composure, to figure out what was going on.
I had no idea what was happening to me, where it came from, and worst of all, how to stop it.
That began twenty LONG years of struggling through severe panic attacks that hit me from every angle, every single day of my life since. (And still continue today.)
WHO EVEN AM I??
The trouble is, panic begins to give you an identity.
You start to see yourself as the person who can’t do all the things that everyone else is free to do.
I begin to define myself as, ‘the girl with panic.’
As my husband went through Bible College and eventually the ministry, I begin to have kids and learned ways to cheat my way through any and every engagement I felt uncomfortable in (which was just about everything.)
Life itself made me panicky!
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT MY WALK WITH THE LORD?
How could I serve God and love Him if I couldn’t leave my living room? What would become of my life if I could never learned to overcome the attacks that hit me day and night?
The frightening thought overwhelmed me as I imagined myself living a life of seclusion. My hopes were dashed when I was tempted to think that I could never serve God while in the throes of panic. How could He ever use me, a crumpled up fearful soul who hid out in her house?
After all how much ministry could really take place from my dining room table?
PLEASE, OH GOD, DELIVER ME!
As I mentioned before, over the years, several well meaning Christians have told me what a sinful behavior panic is. They have called into question my trust in God and pointed out to me that the ‘less committed believers’ sit in the back during a Sunday Morning service. Didn’t they know that I loved God so much, that even with the panic, I still wanted to be in church, worshipping my God and my Creator even if it meant sitting all the way in the back, or even at times, standing in the doorway?
In my desperate attempt to overcome panic, I sought Scripture daily and clung to every word I read.
I cried out to God and begged Him to deliver me from this enslavement I felt inside my soul.
‘Please God, if you will just free me from panic I will love You and serve You. I bargained with God and ask him to release me of the struggle. ‘I know how effective I can be if I just don’t have to deal with panic.’
Desperate for answers, I searched every verse that had anything to do with fear, anxiety, or trust. I pillaged books and read all about how to trust God amidst my struggles.
I asked for prayer from people I knew and committed to spending time in the Word in hopes that God would deliver me.
I still felt that I knew what was best for me. That through freedom from panic, I would be a much more viable asset to the Kingdom of God. I could witness to untold millions without a lick of fear and serve Him with reckless abandon.
GOD’S WAYS ARE NOT OUR WAYS
Months turned into years and suddenly I looked back and twenty years of my life have been consumed with panic.
Now you would think that the temptation to feel my life has been wasted would overwhelm me, but I see it differently. God hasn’t taken away the panic. He didn’t ‘deliver’ me from the hopeless and constant fear. He chose another way for me.
As I sit back, now I begin to realize that God used panic in my life to DIRECTLY connect me with Him.
35 OF THE BEST BIBLE VERSES EVER: FOR HELP WITH PANIC AND ANXIETY
Download my FREE most favorite verses to help you if you struggle with panic and anxiety!!
THE RESULTS OF PANIC ARE NOT WHAT I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT
My friend, I have NO choice but to cling to God.
Through panic, I have realized that HE is my lifeline. I don’t need deliverance. He has already delivered me.
Going grocery shopping is a total and complete ‘act of faith’ and I have to stretch myself and trust that God will walk right beside me through it. Talking to someone (yes, even a person I know and love) makes me shudder with fear. And yet, God is with me. He shows me His strength everyday.
I have to exercise the kind of faith that comes when I am at my lowest and weakest. The kind of faith that some people will only ever know when faced with a major travesty.
While I am begging God to take away the panic, He is saying to me, ‘My child, I am refining you through the process.’
PANIC IS A GIFT
A gift??? If you’re reading this right now and you struggle with panic, then you might wonder if I fell off my rocker!
How could panic be a gift? I’ve always thought it was a curse!
You see, while I was worried about not being able to grow in my faith because I was hindered by panic, God was using it to strengthen my faith in ways I could have never imagined possible. Never. Not in my wildest dreams!
What would my life be like without panic? (Believe me, I have wondered.) How self-sufficient could I become? If I didn’t daily have to cling to the cross, (and I mean cling) because panic drives me there, I might be tempted to never seek God.
I might grow prideful and think that I could make it through life on my own. After all, I’ve always lived a pretty straight and narrow life. I’ve never struggled with addiction, I love my husband, and I’ve been faithful. I’m a fairly decent mom. (At least I think I am!) When faced with a decision between right and wrong, I generally choose to do the right thing. Can you see how I might be tempted never to call on God?
PANIC REALLY HAS DEFINED ME
But not in the way you would imagine!
Panic has made me who I am today. But really, it isn’t panic that defines me. God does! He says I am His child, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, called by His name, known and loved by Him.
In my desperate pursuit to be free of panic, in order ‘to serve God,’ He gently reminded me that he loves me just how I am, and that I am free to love and serve him as ‘the girl with panic!’
I’M ETERNALLY GRATEFUL
Panic is what drives me to the cross, and I am ever grateful that God saw fit to allow me to be conforming to the image of his Son as a result. And that is a constant process.
My constant pursuit of the remedy for panic led me down the path of growing closer to my God. How ironic that I thought I needed to get RID of panic in order to be fully surrendered to Him!
Could my life look different if panic weren’t a part? Of course, some days I allow myself to daydream of the freedom that would come if panic weren’t a daily struggle.
But when I compare my struggles to the eternal riches that panic has given me as a result of causing me to seek God like never before, I am grateful.
DON’T LOSE HOPE
My friend, if you are struggling with panic and feel like it defines you, I want to take you by the hand and show you that you are so much more than the ‘panic’ that attacks you.
Right here, in the midst of your struggle, you can serve and love God, simply by seeking Him with the desperation that panic gives.
If you are struggling right now, not knowing how you will ever escape the nightmare of panic, please let me encourage you and remind you that you have a treasure.
You have something that not many others do. You have a daily and constant reminder that you need God and HIS might to make it through the day.
And I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty awesome!
Are you there? Are you struggling to survive through the despair that panic brings? Have you given up hope? Or wondered how effective you can really be? Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to encourage you as you grow to Christ.