Our response in tragic situations can make the difference as to whether we have peace, or whether we panic; whether we survive or whether we perish; whether we swim, or whether we drown.
Depending on where we are at, it can feel like we are in an elevator, squeezed in on both sides with nowhere to go. The thing that I’m trying to establish in my own life is to train myself to be calm in even the worst of scenarios so that I can make a rational decision in a turbulent time. I’m trying to train myself to be this way because it can make the difference as to whether we survive or whether we don’t.
Perhaps we all have seen on television or read in our newspapers inspiring stories of people who have survived the worst; recently I saw on television a story about a brother and sister who were stranded up in the mountains somewhere for about four days and nobody knew where they were. They slept through cold nights with very little to no food, but the brother manned up and kept himself from panicking, because he knew that if he panicked, both he and his sister would have lost it and death would have been imminent.
The next time you get a chance to see a survival story, you will hear how the one thing that kept them going was the fact that they did not panic.
Church and community, whenever we find ourselves in the panic mode, our thinking is not clear; our vision is obscure. We do things spontaneously — we sweat, our breath gets short, our heart starts beating fast and we lose it! When we find ourselves in a crisis, the thing that we must do is compose ourselves; we’ve got to tell ourselves, “self, hold it together!” “Don’t lose it now!” When we hear bad news let us speak this to ourselves. It is vital that we do not panic.
When we fall into water and its over our head we panic, and when somebody tries to save us we end up pulling them under. When a fire breaks out in our home we panic and we forget the drop and roll procedure that keeps you under the smoke so that you can crawl to safety — we forget where the fire extinguishers are. When a pregnant mother’s water breaks and she starts to give birth we panic; when our children get sick and stay sick we panic.
When the doctor gives us a bad diagnosis we panic; the talk about cutting off Medicare and Medicaid causes people to panic; when the phone rings late at night we panic; when we hear tragic news we panic; when we lose our jobs we panic; when the unemployment money runs out we panic; when we receive a foreclosure notice that threatens to kick us out of our home we panic; when we get cut and we start to bleed real bad we panic — and when we panic, fear grips our hearts and we tend to overreact. We make hasty decisions based on our emotions or how we feel at the time.
Our adrenaline starts flowing and we lose all sense of control, and that’s not good. We need to remember in tough times that survival is the name of the game and that God is still in control.
The Rev. George Ellis is pastor of Union Grove Baptist Church. Reach him at [email protected]