Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 2 Corinthians 12:7 NIV
The room spins. My heart races. My palms sweat and my shoulders tense. The room closes in and I can’t escape. My mind shouts lies. I desperately want to flee the scene and cower under my bed sheets.
This is what a panic attack feels like.
A panic attack mimics the feeling of suddenly being frightened except the feeling remains for an indefinite amount of time. I have struggled with anxiety all throughout my teen years. After I became a Christian, I was able to overcome my fears. But today, when I least expected it, it reared its ugly head at a restaurant with some friends. At its best, it’s something I can overcome. At its worst, I want to avoid socialization of any kind.
As a Christian, it can be frustrating to suffer with this debilitating ailment. The apostle Paul spoke about a similar thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:7. He says “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”
I may never fully overcome my anxiety and panic attacks. But I have hope that God has given me the ability to deal with the attacks when they come.
Renew your mind: Reciting Scripture helps focus your mind on the truth of God’s word and not on the lies the enemy whispers in your ear. A great verse is 1 Chronicles 28:20 (NLT): “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
Tell the truth: Most of your anxiety stems from the lies the enemy whispers in your ear. Your thoughts trigger a physical reaction. If your mind panics, so will your body. Romans 12:2 (NIV) says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Replacing those lies with truthful statements like, “I can do this. I have succeeded before and I can succeed again. I am strong.” help stifle those physical symptoms and keep you calm during anxiety-inducing situations.
Go to your happy place: Envision in your mind a situation or event that you find relaxing or pleasurable. It can be a past memory like a vacation spot or a present situation like a nighttime ritual. As long as your mind meditates on something that promotes relaxation, it will help you refocus your mind on that desired feeling.
I may always struggle with my thorn of anxiety much like Paul struggled with his. But with God’s help, I can be a victor and not a victim and you can too. Try these strategies.
Dear Lord, Help us to focus our minds on You and not on the stresses of this world.