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If Panic Attacks, Push Back

Originally published May 17, 2024, HERE at Proverbs 31, Encouragement for Today Devotions.

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your comforts delight me.”

Psalm 94:19 (AMP)

It came out of nowhere. My pounding heart skipped beats; my hands and feet grew cold and tingly. A slow numbing crept up my arms and legs. Shortness of breath, dizziness, and nausea overwhelmed me. I thought I was having a heart attack as my husband drove me to the ER.

Heart monitors and stress tests revealed a healthy heart, and I was sent home with a prescription to treat a possible panic attack. I felt like my body had betrayed me, and I now feared having another panic attack, perpetuating my anxiety.

Panic attacks are episodes of intense fear that trigger severe physical reactions in situations where there appears to be no real danger, but our mind and body beg to differ. There is hope in biblical counseling, medication, diet and exercise, and other tools to navigate these attacks — and however He may work through doctors, counselors, and friends around us, we know God is our ultimate source of help (Psalm 121:1-3). Personally, what I needed most was wisdom from God’s Word.

In Psalm 94, the psalmist also experienced anxiety. He lamented how the wicked persecuted God’s people with murderous words and actions: “How long will the wicked rejoice in triumph?” (Psalm 94:3, AMP).

But he also resolved to shift his thinking and remember that God would “grant him [power to calm himself and find] peace in the days of adversity” (Psalm 94:13, AMP).

And in our key verse, he declared, “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your comforts delight me” (Psalm 94:19).

When my anxiety amplifies, how could I seek God’s comfort and trust Him to give me the power to calm myself and find peace?

Second Corinthians 1:3-4 says the "God of all comfort … comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (ESV).

I remember the first time I courageously shared my struggles with other believers. As they listened with empathy and acceptance, my anxieties lessened and were replaced with God’s comfort. As a result, others began sharing their struggles, too, and God’s comfort began to heal us.

There is a concept in mental health counseling known as “empathetic witness” — the idea that sharing our pain with someone who really listens is deeply healing.

When anxiety creeps into our hearts, minds, and bodies, the enemy wants to shame us into silence and keep us from connecting with other believers — but we are created for community by a relational God. In our with-ness, God is with us.

Sharing struggles takes practice, and it’s vital to find a safe community. Let’s encourage each other to share our sufferings so we can push back panic — even if it’s just a little more each day — and be comforted by God’s peace.

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of the Church, the body of Christ. Together we usher in the delight of Your comfort as we share our struggles. Our connection and unity reveal You and heal us. For that, we are so grateful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


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