In a time of uncertainty and stress, here’s the path to finding calm and distancing ourselves from fear.
Panic is contagious.
It spreads quickly and many are susceptible to infection. The cause may be financial, prompted by a layoff or a falling stock market. It can be rooted in health concerns, such as the global reaction to the coronavirus. It might be rational or irrational, specific or general.
Wherever the panic comes from, it is usually a combination of two sensations: fear of the future and a perceived lack of control. After all, if we knew what was going to happen, or had a sense of control over the coming events, the panic would likely subside.
That’s why prayer can help. That may sound like a platitude. Like so much wishful thinking. But it’s true. Many years ago, God told His people who were facing an overwhelmingly threatening situation:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who relies on it
will never be stricken with panic” (Isaiah 28:16, NIV).
Turning to God in faith can relieve the uncertainty and stress that induces panic. We may have limited control when it comes to the outbreak of pandemics, sudden natural disasters and spiraling stock markets. But while praying may or may not change the circumstances in which we find ourselves, it can change us. Prayer can center us, calm us and point our minds and hearts to God.
So, sure, we can flip channels and obsess over the latest unsettling news. Or we can see the wisdom in the biblical prescription for fear, worry and panic: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done” (Philippians 4:6, NLT).
That writer knew what we need to discover: prayer displaces worry and pushes back on panic. If we’re feeling panicky, we should pray. If we finish praying and we’re still panicked, we should pray. If we feel panic returning, we should return to prayer, as often as necessary.