Panic Attack Christianity

I do not look like this when I am thinking, whether or not I am in a dentist chair, but I FEEL as if I do! Gathering Thoughts, original painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

I just returned from a visit — a two-hour visit, mind you — to the dentist, which I have chronicled fully in God, the Dentist, at my Commonsense Christianity, BeliefNet blog.

Now two hours is a long time to sit in a chair, thinking — and the thing about thinking, is this:

If you don’t watch where you let your thoughts flow, you can get into a mental panic situation, real fast.

Hyperventilation, shallow breathing, deer-in-the-headlight eyes (mine are blue, though, so it looks more like “mad-scientist-on-too-much-coffee”) — these are symptoms I try to avoid, and after having given birth to four children, three of them naturally, I tend to comfort myself by saying,

“My dear, you’ve done pain. If you can push a baby out and live, you can sit in the dentist’s chair.”

That worked for a little while, but fortunately, the Novocaine kicked in and that worked even better. But if I had wanted to, and if I had focused hard enough, I could have reached panic levels very quickly by zeroing in on all of the What Ifs, which I won’t go into, because none of you needs any additional things to worry about when you go to the dentist.

What If . . . Something Happens?

The dentist chair, however, is not the only place we have to watch out for What Ifs. Life, in general and every moment we live it, is full of What Ifs, and when I was praying the other day I was focusing on these so heavily that my breathing became the opposite, and God brought the story of Jairus to my mind:

Quiet, reflective, peaceful, serene — that’s what I want to be. Light in the Forest, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

Jairus was a leader of the synagogue who approached Jesus in Mark 5: 21 – 43 to ask for — actually, Jairus fell at Christ’s feet and pleaded for  — healing of his dying little daughter.

Jesus immediately turned toward Jairus’ house.

On the way, however, a woman who had been subject to a chronic health condition for 12 years decided that, if she could just touch Jesus’ garments, she would be healed. She touched, and she was healed.

The problem arose when Jesus stopped walking and asked who had just touched Him, and wasn’t about to move on until He got an answer. Jairus, one can imagine, was mentally screaming to himself what the disciples voiced aloud:

“Everyone’s touching you! How can you possibly expect an answer to a question like that?”

The woman eventually comes forward, Jesus acknowledges her faith and blesses her. At this point, however, people from Jairus’ house show up to tell him that his daughter is dead. No need to bother the Teacher anymore.

And herein comes the sweetest part of the story:

“Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.'”

Are You Afraid?

Don’t be afraid, Child of God. Your Father loves and cares for you. Lilac Festival, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

Do you know how many times in the Bible God reassures us about our fear?

“Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10: 31)

“Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” (John 14: 27)

“You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day . . . “ (Psalm 91: 5)

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” (Genesis 26: 24)

“Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them.” (Deuteronomy 20: 3)

Google the words “Scripture verses on fear,” or look up “afraid” in your Bible’s index sometime and see what you find.

God understands our problem with fear. He doesn’t lash us with a whip because we are afraid; He holds us. He fully understood Jairus’ emotions at hearing of the death of his beloved daughter, and He reassured him: Don’t be afraid.

I know. Jesus isn’t walking the earth right now, able to heal us when we touch His garments, or raise us from the dead by His holding our hands and saying, “Little girl, get up.” Our world, our experience, is different, but our God is not.

Do not give in to fear, my friend, although there are many things to be afraid of. But you belong to God, and His hands are the safest place to be.

“In this world, you will have trouble,” Jesus told his disciples in John 16: 33.

Ain’t that the truth. And that was before Wall Street, Obamacare, and Homeland Security.

“But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The person who said that — He’s the one you want to be walking with.

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes, where I address Contempo Christianity on Wednesdays. You can find my other writings on Christianity at Commonsense Christianity, my blog at BeliefNet where I post three times a week.

The artwork in my articles is by my Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson, who sells his original paintings and licensed open edition art prints at Steve Henderson Fine Art.

If you’re worried about money, do something about it. My book, Live Happily on Less gives you ideas on how to make the most of what you have. My own College Girl is reading her copy chapter by chapter, and putting into practice what she’s learning. And this is someone who grew up with me.

If you feel like you can’t say what you want because you don’t write right, check out my book Grammar Despair. Writing isn’t rocket science, whatever rocket science is, and you don’t need a PhD to do it well. (Actually, the PhD probably gets you into bad habits so you do it less well.)

About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She writes about life, art, and the art of life.
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