How do you deal with Fear and Panic?
If you are not quite sure, now is a good time to figure it out. We all thought that when the pandemic was over the fear and panic would end as well. Maybe you have noticed that, if anything, it has actually gotten worse! While you may not believe the chaos around us is warranted, there is no denying that much can be learned by observing people who are dealing with an uncertain future. It is important, even if we would like for the truth to be different, something else designed to push us beyond our ability to calmly and intelligently cope is always right around the corner.
So, whether now or at some point in the future, how SHOULD you deal with fear and panic?
Here are ten steps divided into three categories:
1. Trusting God does not mean blaming Him when things begin to spin out of control. The most important time to trust Him is when we have moved beyond OUR ability to determine outcomes. This is where He wants us to live. As difficult as this can be, decide to trust when what may happen in the future fills you with fear.
Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
2. Ask yourself this question: “How do I want to be remembered when this is all over?” Eventually, the current crisis will come to an end. How we act IN THE CRISIS may be remembered for the rest of our lives. When people look back years from now on your life at this moment, what do you want them to say?
2Corinthians 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
3. Remember that you are not alone. There are many dealing with the same things you are dealing with and many who have dealt with it before and come through on the other side. Perhaps the greatest fuel for fear is the feeling of being alone. You are not alone!
Romans 11:2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Think the Right Thoughts
4. Would you still be doing what you are doing right now if the people around you weren’t panicking? Often, instead of seeing things clearly, we simply respond to the panic of those around us. Deliberate action is important but responding to the fear of others is dangerous.
Ephesians 5:14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
5. Are you making decisions out of fear and emotion or fact? Act on the very best information that you have and be very careful about letting how you feel get in the way of what you know.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
6. Will your behavior improve your situation? In an uncertain situation, we sometimes feel better by just doing “something”. This can be a false comfort that leads to frustration if that “something” is not actually improving our situation. Do things that will get you closer to a solution even if those things are very small. Incremental movement forward is still taking you in the right direction.
Psalm 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
7. Be diligent to record your thoughts and actions during this time to serve as a guide in the future. Difficulties are only wasted if we fail to learn from them. Learn every lesson not that you can and then put those lessons in a place that makes reflection easy. Don’t waste this time. Learn from it.
Psalm 143:5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.
8. Pray. For many, the idea of prayer can seem trite and ritualistic. Though much could be said about prayer, one of the great benefits of praying during the difficult season of life is that what we are going through tends to come into focus. We are declaring our need for God and His work in our lives. Prayer provides a way for us to take our burdens and give them to the only one who can actually carry them.
1Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
9. Go to work. Prayer and work need to happen at the same time. We work as hard as we can with the resources that we have while trusting God for the rest. It is amazing what God will do when we are willing to work!
James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
10. Stop looking at yourself and help others. In the worst of times, the happiest people are those who are helping others. When we stop looking at our own needs long enough to see the needs of others, the chaos of life begins to come into perspective and we see things as they are. So often we live in the echo chamber of our minds that tells us again and again just how bad life is. Helping others quiets the mind, strengthens the heart and gives us a clear vision.
Philippians 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Our current crisis will not be the last any of us will face but it can be the one that prepares us for whatever is next. Life can be extremely difficult but that does not mean we must respond to the fear and panic of those around us. Though we may not be able to control our circumstances, we can control how we respond to them. Decide now to respond in a way that paves a path for future generations to follow.
A previous version of this post appeared here under the title, “10 Steps for Dealing with Fear and Panic”.