Life has or will sucker punch us all at least once.
The dichotomy of joy and pain exists. It’s scattered alongside the pathways of life for both believers and unbelievers. Abundant life is abounding in the fullness of our needs, but it does not exempt us from hardship, disappointment, adversity, distress, and even temptation.
Just and unjust, rain will come.
When these times arise, we are prone to fear-induced panic, if the magnitude and velocity of the blow compromises our armor and escapes our immediate control. Formidable threat or not, we journey to the wildest parts of our imagination and create a false reality, never really pausing to assess the truth of our condition or the totality of our circumstance. What does this mean exactly? How massive is massive? How dire is dire? Are there more for me than there are against me? Are my chances favorable or unfavorable?
We react (automatic response), rather than respond (conscious decision to act).
pan·ic1/ˈpanik/ noun. sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly thoughtless behavior.
Wasn’t it Isaac who panicked in the face of men at Gerar, while attempting to pawn off Rebekah as his sister, rather than his wife? (Gen 26:7)
Didn’t Peter panic and lose faith on the water, in the company of Jesus, causing him to sink at the sight of hurricane strength winds? (Matt 14:29)
It was David who fled from Saul to Achish, king of Gath, and then pretended to be insane, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard, because he also feared Achish. (1 Samuel 21:10; 1 Samuel 21:12-13)
Apostle Paul wrote, “When we arrived in Macedonia province, we couldn’t settle down. The fights in the church and the fears in our hearts kept us on pins and needles. We couldn’t relax because we didn’t know how it would turn out.” (2 Corinthians 7:5, emphasis added)
Recently, I traveled to Iceland for vacation with my husband. We have an adventurous streak, so we planned multiple excursions that were sure to instigate an adrenaline rush and give us greater insight into the thrill offerings of the country.
We chose a tour that included snowmobiling on a glacier. I’ve never – could never – ride a snowmobile up and down a glacier where I live. We were both eager for the experience, and unlike when we rode an ATV up a mountain and through a scene of beautiful wonders birthed from fire & ice earlier that week, I’d planned to switch off driving with my husband. Due to unforeseen events, I was more comfortable keeping watch and asked him to drive the full way.
Naturally, we received safety instructions at the onset, which included the need to lean sharply in the opposite direction of our turn, or we would risk tipping the ~500lbs snowmobile over.
We were off!!! My husband began driving through the path etched in the snow, following and leading other tourists. We both remembered yet another caution, “stay on the designated path,” as we risked falling under the glacier if we didn’t stick to the path pre-determined as safe by the guides.
Somewhere around the forty percent mark, after thinking that the snowmobile ride was much smoother and seemingly safer than the ATV tour, something happened. The person in front of us had begun to drift a little off the etched path, but she narrowly maintained control of the vehicle. Immediately after the observation ahead, I felt us drift even further to the left as we were making a sharp turn. I began to lean in the opposite direction, but it was too late, we were tipping over…seemingly in slow motion.
We fell to the ground – well to the floor of the glacier – in approximately two feet of snow, trapped underneath the snowmobile.
What happened next was significant, I panicked. I looked at the snowmobile lying on top of us, realizing we were trapped under its weight. It was extremely cold and many parts of my body were numb, but I could feel the machine touching my leg. I immediately assumed by tibia was broken it two (feel free to laugh). I didn’t scream, but my voice went up an octave (or two) as I said to my husband and into the cold, “My leg. It’s on my leg!”
I remember hearing, and due to the height of the snow, barely seeing people drudging through the white powder from both directions to save us. We had undoubtedly moved off the path pre-determined as safe and could have gone through a shallow area in the glacier.
After my husband heard me, he tried to rock the snowmobile to help me wiggle free. When I was able to move my leg, just a little, an immediate calm came over me. The guide and two other people helped lift the snowmobile and pulled us out from under its weight.
“Are you okay?” My response, having greater clarity and accurately assessing the truth of my reality, “Thank God, yes I’m okay.”
I looked at my husband and said, “Are you okay, are you hurt?” He was fine as well.
Maybe the depth of the snow helped cushion the weight of the machinery, or part of its construction included safeguards in the event of tipping. Maybe, we were never truly in danger or spared from danger’s raft. I don’t know. What I do know, we were safe and yet I panicked. In fact, we were safe, when I panicked.
Where is Adonai (Master; I AM), Yeshua (Jesus; Deliverer; Rescuer; Salvation) El Roi (The God Who Sees) when we face sudden trouble?
GOD is always right there in the midst of our sucker punches. Even when we deliberate at the crossroads of fear and faith, He is ever-present, alert, and available to help. (Deuteronomy 31:6; 31:8; Hebrews 13:6) Our God loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). He is near.
In the face of adversity, why don’t we look to Him immediately? Why does fear blind us from recognizing His presence? Why don’t we trust that whatever the outcome, He’s always in control? As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).
We’ll have questions, but we won’t always be afforded the answers. Trust is essential. I won’t pretend it’s easy, but it becomes easier, as our relationship with Him grows and deepens.
Myles Monroe once said, “Although God may not explain Himself, He will reveal Himself.”
We get afraid. We ALL get afraid. You and I can either use that energy to press firmer into truth and fuel greater resolve in our faith or allow it to reign over us and dominate our actions or inactions. We have the ability to choose, even when it doesn’t “feel” like we have a choice.
Fear could have kept us both bound under that snowmobile, but when fear-induced panic surfaced, truth and help were also present.
Blows will come. They temporarily knock the wind out of us. They may even bruise or break us. If we succumb to fear, it will perpetuate and paralyze our ability respond and fight back with faith and truth. Fear is unrelenting unless thwarted by a continually renewed mind.
Faith is God’s antidote to fear. Punch back!