The dictionary defines Panic as a "sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior." The Mayo Clinic adds the possibility that panic can "trigger severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause." Beyond the cold sweats and rapid breathing caused by fright or anxiety, panic attacks can be so intense, says Mayo, that you may think you're having a heart attack or even dying.
Panic is extreme, but it is not uncommon.
Pursuing Panic Relief
Talk, Don't Listen, to Yourself
The Psalms teach us how to pray in all of life's varied circumstances, including cases of extreme emotion. Psalm 77 in particular shows us how to cry out to God for help when nothing, even God Himself, seems to bring comfort:
I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember God, I moan;
when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah
You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak (vv. 1-4).
Pray with Thanksgiving
Paul echoed Jesus' command, "do not be anxious about anything," adding that Christians should instead, "in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
We are to pray with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for what? For God's saving work in our lives. For God's grace and mercy. For God's wisdom and power to do what is right in our situation. And yes, with thanksgiving for the opportunity that the present challenges give us to further trust in God.
When we do this, the Bible says "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:4-7).
Grow your Faith, Shrink your Fear
The Gospel of Matthew records a time the disciples, in the midst of a great storm, panicked for their lives. They woke Jesus, who was asleep on the boat and urged Him to save them. He said to them, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?" Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm (Matthew 8:26).
When you’re tempted to drown in your own fear-filled thoughts, to be overwhelmed by the conversation in your head, pay attention instead to God's Word in your hands: the Bible. Preach to yourself. Say with the Psalmist,
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God (Psalm 42:5-6, 11)
Don’t indulge in speculation, in all the what ifs. Think instead about what is.