“Don’t panic!” is perhaps one of the most panic-inducing phrases in the English language and usually precedes the announcement of a piece of very panic-filled news!
At the start of our current crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic, it was a phrase we heard often. News reports would outline the governments ‘no need to panic!’ messages, alongside footage of empty supermarket shelves – the result of widespread panic buying. For many, the natural response to such crisis was panic and, of course, this is entirely understandable; a completely human response to such a significant threat.
The Bible also recognises that the normal human response to trials or suffering is to panic or to feel fearful. Time and time again, we are counselled to not be afraid:
“But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
However, the message we find in the scriptures is not a simple “don’t panic” message, it goes much deeper than that.
Through the scriptures we are also given a reason not be afraid. Time and time again we are shown that those who are close to the Lord have no reason to fear. This message comes to its ultimate fulfilment in Jesus, as he says:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Have I been afraid during this pandemic? Absolutely, I have.
Have I felt panicked, when I turned on the news or read a government report? I have, often!
I have, however, also been consoled. I have also been reminded. I have been strengthened.
Turning to prayer at this time, spending time with the scriptures, has been – for me – the antidote to fear, the remedy for panic and the ultimate reminder that “perfect love casts out fear” 1 John: 4-18.
While we may all feel afraid; it is ok not to be ok!
Prayer reminds us of Jesus’s love for us and that, through his love, fear and panic will never overwhelm us.