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And I panicked!

During the days of Moses way back in the Old Testament, God gave wise instruction to His people regarding their mental and emotional attitude when they went to battle against their enemies:  “He [the priest] shall say: ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies.  Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them’”  (Deuteronomy 20:4, New International Version). 

Those words from thousands of years ago are right on target for us today.  Even though we might be facing a different kind of battle than they did, life is filled with lots of battles that cause us to melt away with fear and panic.  I experienced one of those events just a few days ago in which, for an hour or so, I felt a great deal of fear and panic.

After being on the road quite a bit and finally getting home, my body was weary and my mind was slow.  As I started to search for a check I had written a year ago, I expected it to be a brief and effortless matter.  Gale was putting together a simple supper for us and I was certain I would be finished with my search in just a few minutes as I first looked through paper bank statements from the previous year.  When that did not produce what I needed, I got on the trusty computer and went to online banking—but to no avail; what I wanted was not found.  As I looked at the check book registry and compared it to the electronic bank statements, nothing lined up; it looked like a big mess and a multitude of thoughts were running through my head as my panic increased.  My growing panic got so bad that I lost interest in eating, and when I do not want to eat there has to be something horribly wrong going on.

As I worriedly kept searching, my senses started to clear up a bit and I realized that I was trying to reconcile checks written two years ago with bank statements from last year!  Furthermore, the original check that I had been trying to find was in a totally different bank account.  Talk about egg on the face!!

When I was confident that everything was alright and I would not be going to jail, my appetite reemerged and I sat down had had supper with my wife.  It was a lot of fear and panic for no good reason, and a matter of jumping to conclusions without all the correct facts. 

Life brings us many encounters that are a lot more serious than my little episode, but whatever we face—real or imagined, true or distorted—panic and fear are often our human response.  But such responses are not part of God’s plan for His children.  Panic and fear are contagious and can spread to others as Deuteronomy 20:8 pointed out to those facing battle:  “Then the officer shall add, ‘Is any man afraid or fainthearted?  Let him go home so that his brothers will not become disheartened too.’”

What can we do to help us overcome the temptation to let panic overtake us and even affect the lives of those around us?  For starters we can remember and apply the words of Deuteronomy 20:4, “For the Lord your God is the One Who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”  While most of the enemies we battle are not those with flesh and blood, they are every bit as real and fierce and destructive.  We need God’s presence to fight for us in those battles as surely as the armies of Moses’ day needed God to go to the battle field on their behalf.

The words of Jesus Christ to His disciples, as they faced a season of panic upon the realization that He would soon go to the cross and die, are powerfully needed in our times of panic, fear, and uncertainty:  “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in Me” (John 14:1).