How are you feeling today? That’s an especially important question to ask ourselves and each other, these days. Maybe you’re having a good day, feeling content and at ease. But I know not everyone is feeling that way. As we deal with the COVID pandemic, it can be so easy to get caught up in the panic. We hear about threats and dangers, we see other people panicking, we find grocery shelves empty. Have you felt the panic? Let’s learn how to prevent panic.
Well, I’ve had to fight off that feeling of fear and panic, too. But I know in my heart that panic doesn’t help anyone. What it can do is hurt people, by sowing fear and misinformation. We want to prevent panic.
Living in constant, chronic fear can be detrimental to your physical and mental health. So today, I’d like to share with you an important message: It came to pass, it didn’t come to stay.
You’re Not Alone
When I was two, I contracted polio. In the early 1950s, when I was young, polio led to 15,000 cases of paralysis each year. I thank God that I never needed an iron lung, and that I’ve been able to live my life without residual symptoms.
But that must have been a terrifying time for my parents. They had memories of their own surrounding a pandemic. Mom and Dad were born around the time of the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, the flu that killed between 20 million and 50 million people around the world. They lived through the financial challenges of the Great Depression, World War II, and the Asian Flu pandemic of 1956. Such hearty stock!
And their parents, my grandparents, lived through World War I. The war that changed the world as they knew it. They raised babies as a pandemic tore through the nation. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for those generations to live through such scary events, but I bet it reflects some of the same concerns and fear we feel today.
It seems to me that each generation faces some sort of great challenge or crisis. Maybe you have felt that no one else has felt the pain that you have, that no one else has known loss and sleepless nights and loneliness and financial burden like you have.
Maybe you have felt that an event like this has never happened before. Our perspectives are often based around our own personal experiences. But a look at history can help show us that we’re not alone, that generations before us, even our own family members, have made it through these events. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!
To get through events like these, it’s essential to avoid panic. Avoid getting caught up in that fervor of high emotion and fear that can take us captive so quickly, hindering our lives and our health.
So how do we stop panicking?
Panic is a feeling. Fear, too, is a feeling, though sometimes they can feel very intense. The first thing we want to do is take care of those feelings. That means turning to the stress management techniques I have shared with my clients and you.
One of my favorite, effective, do-anywhere stress management techniques is B-M-W — Breathe, Melt and Wiggle. It helps keep us from getting into the mode of fight, flight or freeze that won’t do us any good.
Another tool in our toolbox is S-D-P: Stop, Drop and Pray. Using S-T-P give your concerns to God. He knows what’s going on. And He has protected us, both from things we know and things we don’t know anything about. So let’s be thankful for that and recognize that He’s in control. With this in mind, we can receive peace and clarity in our thinking, and start to sort out our perspectives.
As we consider our perspectives, let’s take a serious look at the messages we’re receiving. Threats and crises make the news. Happy lives usually don’t. Current events may seem scary, but there’s lots of positive things going on, too, that we might not be aware of.
We’re receiving statistics, opinions and projections. Some may be true, some may be misinformation. Many are “what-ifs,” and if there’s nothing we can do about it, why waste time worrying?
Now is the time to sort out the messages you’re receiving and consider how they make you feel. Do you feel fearful, helpless, dependent or hopeless afterwards? If so, then you may need to take out your personal “delete button” for those things that you can’t control that make you feel badly.
On the flip side is the information factual, verified and helpful? Does it provide you with a course of action? That information is worth your time. In these cases, there is something we can control, a way to help others.
I’m happy to see volunteer services and businesses sprouting up to help with deliveries and electronic services that help people get their needs met. Besides finding ways to help others through avenues like these, we can help ourselves and those we contact by washing our hands often and following proper protocol.
Words of Comfort
Let’s remember what FEAR can stand for: False Evidence Appearing Real.
If our information is real, we want to take precautions and act wisely. Whereas if our information is false but appears real, we don’t need it in our lives. We can turn to the Bible for truth that relates to today’s times.
Psalm 91: 1-3 says, “Those who live in the shelter of the most high will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety. He is my God and I trust Him. For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.”
And in Philippians 4: 6-9, Paul says, “Don’t worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand, and I can attest to that. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, what is honorable, what is right and pure and lovely and admirable. Think about these things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me, everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”
Prayer for today
Abba, Father, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit, thank You, Almighty God, for who You are. You know and hold together each star in the universe, and every atom and subatomic particle. God, You deeply love and care for my friend and the details of my friend’s concerns, pain, and burdens, as You care for mine. Thank You for always being there for my friend and for me, never leaving us. I thank You, Father, that You strengthen and comfort and guide us if we’ll just let You. Turn our hearts and our eyes to You during difficult trials and times. You know the future, we do not. So I thank You that You’re the only one sufficient to meet not only our needs, but to guide us into Your will, Your way and Your word at the appropriate time, so I thank You, Father, for that. Remind us to release our cares to You, and trust in You, Lord. Please help my friend and me to remember that nothing is going to happen today that You and I together can’t handle.
I keep that reminder front and center in my home on a little plaque to remind me that together, we can handle what lies ahead.
May you stay calm and in the perfect care of the Lord.