Attacking Panic

Attacking Panic
August 28, 2016
Psalm 31

A photographer was assigned to get photos of a forest fire.  Because there was too much smoke, he hired a plane so he could fly over the forest.  When he arrived at the airport, a plane was warming up near the runway.  He jumped in and said, “Let’s go!  Let’s go!”  The pilot received clearance and took off.

The photographer looked out the window and said, “Fly over the north side of the fire and make three or four low level passes.”  The pilot asked, “Why do you want to do that?”  The photographer said, “Because I’m a photographer and I’m going to take pictures.”  The pilot paused and asked, “You’re not the flight instructor?”

These guys know what it means to have a panic attack.  Most of us have been there.  We’ve been in situations that caused us to panic.  When you find out you won’t be able to meet an important deadline at work.  When you oversleep for a job interview.  Or when you discover you don’t have the money to pay a bill.  When you feel a lump under your skin.  When your child storms out of the house and doesn’t come home for hours.

When some people panic, they become unglued.  Others face panic more stoically in an attempt to mask the fear.  Regardless of how we handle panic externally, the internal result is the same: we become immobilized and powerless.

Today we’re looking at a Psalm David wrote after he endured a panic attack.  It almost got the best of him, but he overcame it through his faith, hope and trust in the power of God.  As he reflected on the experience, he wrote this Psalm.

So, what was David going through?  It seems like his enemies were out to get him.  Listen to verses 11-13 ~

11 Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.

12 I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.

13 For I hear the whispering of many — terror on every side! — as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.

David was feeling threatened.  People were talking about him, they disapproved of him, people didn’t want to be near him.  He was dead to them.  People were scheming against him.  David was anxious, panicking.  And when we’re like that we have some choices.  We can do nothing and remain anxious and nervous, feel powerless and impotent.  We can try to get out of our situation on our own power, hoping our decisions are the right ones.  And you know when we’re in these dire situations, we make rash decisions.

Or you can trust in the power and presence of God.  You can seek God and draw  closer to Him and use His power, wisdom and grace to help you.

So, how can we attack panic?  When panic attacks – – –

Don’t trust your feelings.  In verse 22, David said,
22 I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.”

David thought God had abandoned him.  He was convinced he was all alone and God could do nothing to help, so he became alarmed and began to panic.

Too often, when we feel we’re under attack, we begin to listen to our feelings, and base our beliefs on what appears to be true, rather than on the promise of God’s Word.

Have you ever panicked about something, only to realize you were wrong?  We may beat ourselves up over it, yet, we realize everything was based on our feelings, not on reality.  Last week, I had to buy Zachary a calculator for school.  It was a bit pricey, and after walking into the house, it occurred to me, I left the calculator on the shopping cart at Walmart.  I told Debbie and I ran back to the car, (filled with panic) and on the floor of the back seat there was the bag with the calculator.

Your feelings may tell you God has deserted you, but God promises us ~
5 I will never leave you or forsake you. — Hebrews 13:5

Your feelings may tell you, your situation is more than you can handle.  You may feel God has abandoned you.  You may feel you deserve what you’re getting.  You may feel you’re not worthy of God’s power and love.  But God’s Word reminds us 13 We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  — Philippians 4:13.  That’s a promise you can trust.

Your feelings may tell you to give up because God has more important things to worry about than you, but the Bible says God watches over you because you are important to Him. You’re His dearly loved child.  He chose you and He loves you!

When that feeling of panic sets in — that feeling that tells you the worst is about to happen — don’t listen to it.  When you’re overwhelmed with the feeling you’re on your own and God is nowhere to be found, don’t believe it.  DO NOT TRUST YOUR FEELINGS!  Don’t trust the lies of satan.

You may say, “But I can’t help the way I feel, I can’t change the way I feel.”  That may be true.  I’m not telling you to change the way you feel; I’m telling you Don’t trust your feelings.  I’m not saying don’t admit your feelings!

Don’t believe your feelings.  If you trust your feelings you’ll become powerless and immobilized, or you’ll be tempted to fall apart, or you’ll withdraw and try to run from the situation, or you’ll just give in to despair and give up completely.

You may not be able to change your feelings, but you don’t have to trust them.  Instead, when you’re tempted to panic, ask God for help — in spite of how you feel.  Talk to God!  That’s what David did – – – Notice how he finished verse 22 ~

22 I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.”  But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.

Did you get that?  Even when alarms were going off telling David that God abandoned him, he prayed — and the prayer drew him closer to God.  Don’t trust your feelings, trust God!  When your feelings run out of control, cry out to God for help.  He will hear you!

Also, when you’re tempted to panic, you need – – –
to put other people out of your mind.

Remember when Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? was all the rage?  A person auditioned for the show and qualified for the next level of the screening process, but he decided not to continue.  He said, “What if I make it to ‘the chair’ and miss an easy question?  I would be humiliated.  Everyone would laugh at me.”  This guy panicked about not answering a question he hadn’t even been asked!  And panicked about people he’ll never know.

One thing that makes a panicky situation go from bad to worse is allowing yourself to be too concerned about other people.  Don’t worry about what “they” think.  Don’t worry about whether “they” like you or not.  Don’t worry that “they” might take pleasure in your tragedies.

I hate to say this, but no matter who you are, there are people who don’t like you.  They probably don’t have a good reason, but some folks are so bitter and angry that they don’t have it in them to be your friend, they would rather be your enemy.  This kind of person would be happy to hear that you’re having business problems, or marital problems, or health problems.  It’s unfortunate, but there are people like that.  When you face a difficult situation, if you start worrying about what they think, you’ll have a hard time focusing on the solution.

We all have to deal with difficult people.  Maybe the difficult people are the reason for your problems, or maybe they’re just breathing down your neck and making your problems more difficult to manage — either way, you have to learn to ignore them.  Do you know how David dealt with his enemies?  He began by turning himself over to God.  He said ~

14 But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”  My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.

David didn’t try to fight his own battles; he asked God to fight his battles for him.  He asked God to deal with his enemies as well.  You can feel the intensity of his words when he says…

17 Let the wicked be put to shame and lie silent in the grave.

18 Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous.

Don’t worry about what other people think, or say, or do.  Give yourself to God and let him deal with them.  How are you really going to fight people filled with pride, contempt, arrogance, doing it with lying lips?

Don’t get sidetracked into fighting a battle God doesn’t want you to fight, don’t let criticism or stares or silence hold you back.  Follow the path God sets out for you.

Finally, when you’re tempted to panic . . . . run straight into the arms of God.

When you read this Psalm, you see how this situation affected David.  It really knocked him off his feet.  Listen to what he says in verses 9-10 ~
9 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also.

10 For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. —  Psalm 31:9-10

David was saying, “I’m in a mess, Lord, and it’s all my fault.”  No wonder he panicked.  No wonder he thought God deserted him.  It would have been easy for David to think “There’s no way God will have anything to do with me now.”

Instead of running from God, David ran to God, because he knew God’s power and love was bigger than any mistake, bigger than any sin he would ever make.

In verses 7-8, David said ~
7 I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul,

8 and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.

God knows and understands what you’re going through.  If you’re tempted to panic, God understands.  Even if you brought it all on yourself!  It’s not too late.  You can still turn it over to God and He will help you.  The situation may seem hopeless to you but it’s not hopeless for God.

If you feel like a deer in headlights there is only one thing you can do.  You may feel you have nowhere to run . . . but you do have somewhere to run.  Run to God!  Next time you’re in a situation which is causing you to panic.  Stop!  Take a deep breath!  Turn to God as fast as you can.  What do I mean when I say run to God?  What do you do?

Ask God for help.  David said ~ 2 Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily!  Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!

Don’t be afraid to ask God for help.  That’s prayer.  It may be that you usually don’t turn to God, but God is waiting for you to call Him, cry out to Him.  He will hear your prayers!

Give everything you have to God.  David said ~
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit.  This means you’re saying to God, “God. You’re my only hope.  I have no ‘Plan B.’  I’m putting all my trust in you.”

Then, let God lead you.  David said ~
3 For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me.

Free me from this situation.  Whether you’re at fault or you’re a victim of circumstances – – God will set you free.  He will show you a way out.  Start looking to God.  Let Him lead you.

We panic when we feel powerless.  Thanks be to God, we’re never powerless — we are His kids and He is our greatest parent.  Our Father – – gives us His power to help us.  When you’re tempted to panic, you don’t have to face the situation on your own.  When you think you have nowhere to run, you’ve got to know where to run.  Run to God, and let him save you.  That way, you will be attacking panic.

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