(Psalm 55: 4-7)
My heart pounds in my chest.
The terror of death assaults me.
Fear and trembling overwhelm me,
and I can’t stop shaking.
Oh, that I had wings like a dove;
then I would fly away and rest!
I would fly far away
to the quiet of the wilderness.
I began having panic attacks when I was a teenager. Certain fears would sweep over me and quicken my breath, tears pouring down my face in a never-ending deluge — the sobs taking over my breathing patterns and forcing me into hyperventilation. I would literally think, “This is it. I am going to die.” There aren’t adequate words to describe the terror that accompanies a panic attack, but it is crippling and overwhelming. In that moment, the only thing you can focus on is the fear that if you don’t die, you are very well going to lose your mind. Like a cornered deer, you lose your composure, because all you want is to escape to safety and to be at peace.
Fear is contrary to everything that we stand for as Christians (peace, hope, joy, and the greatest of all things — love). Fear is our enemy’s greatest weapon, for when all other attempts to destroy and cripple us fail, fear is the one thing that seeps in through the cracks, seemingly unnoticed, and fills in the spaces left behind by our questions and doubts. Fear is not the vulnerability of the weak. It is not an indication of an immature and feeble spirit. It is the weapon that the devil breaks out when all else fails against the tenacious and relentless ones — those of us who have wrestled and won the battles with most other vices.
Fear is probably the greatest weapon in our enemy’s possession, because it doesn’t have just one face. It can emerge in just about any situation, and it looks different depending on what circumstance is at hand. Maybe it looks like a mother who thinks in “worst case scenario” at all times, operating in fear that rides in on the coattails of caution. Maybe it looks like a loner who regularly cancels plans and shuts people out, who is held back by fear that is disguised as introversion. It parades around behind the mask of complacency, and other times fear even hides inside our sins and failures.
If you struggle with fear, please don’t let the enemy fool you into thinking that your worries and anxieties are just a part of who you are and how you are meant to live your life. Because of the blood of Christ, we are given power over our enemy. We are joint heirs with Jesus, which means that we share in His power and might. We have access to all that God has to offer, and victory is but a breath away.
But I will call on God,
and the Lord will rescue me.
Morning, noon, and night
I cry out in my distress,
and the Lord hears my voice.
He ransoms me and keeps me safe
from the battle waged against me…
(Psalm 55: 16-18)
My victory today is that I no longer suffer from panic attacks. I asked the Lord to stop them, because they were holding me back from living my life — from operating in obedience to Him. Do I still battle my fears and anxiety? Every day. But…I haven’t had a panic attack in over four years. That’s my triumph. Fear is no longer navigating this ship. I am no longer a slave. I claim my victory, for I am a child of God.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me the ability to see beyond the disguises that fear hides behind. I know that I am safe with You, no matter what may happen — that in every battle, You are with me. Amen.