BRADY COLUMN: A Grip on Panic

Published 10:30 am Saturday, March 19, 2022

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Just about everywhere you look today there is one word that describes the situation — panic. Panic means “an outbreak of widespread alarm.” Anybody doubt that we in this nation and world are in a state of panic? We are panicking about energy dependence, the rising gas prices, the unproved Putin-Russian invasion of Ukraine, the spread of the war, covid variants, out-of-control crime, the economy and the list is endless. One of the most delightful plays ever written is the popular musical “Annie,” which of course is based on the “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip. At the beginning of the play, the little orphan girl sings “It’s a Hard knock Life.” Now, most of us can relate to that in these times of uncertainty and panic.  Annie, in the midst of a tough, hard knock life, wants so much to be loved and rescued from her desperate situation. Even though there seems to be no way out, she still maintains hope. And her hope is wrapped up in a dream that someday her parents will come back and reclaim her. Finally, after numerous imposters seek to claim her, she is rescued by the caring strength of Daddy Warbucks.

In this troubled nation and world, we all have something of Annie deep inside us. We want someone to help us, assure us and deliver us. Hear the words of the psalmist when he says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…” (psalm 46:1). So, what are we to do in times of panic?

First, in times of panic we are to endure! That’s right! Endure! Slow down! Trials and tribulations do not invite haste. Rather, they invite contemplation, wisdom, perseverance, endurance. By any reasonable standard, George Washington should have surrendered several times. Even his own countrymen were indifferent to the cause. In addition, his trusted generals betrayed him. But neither injustice, betrayal, cold, hunger, or the might of the enemy could shake his resolve, and a new nation was born. Washington endured. Abraham Lincoln knelt and thought of Christ and said, “Now I am in my Gethsemane.” But he refused to quit and a new nation came closer to being of, by and for the people. Lincoln endured.

Second, in times of panic God is to be found where He is most needed! In times of panic the question is not, “Where is God?” for God is where he always is — “Where he is most needed.” Over and over the psalms make this point that God is with us in trouble, sorrow, sickness, adversity, and even death, especially death.  Now, the psalmist does not always paint a rosy picture nor does he try to predict how things are going to turn out. Simply stated, his faith is indifferent to events. The psalmist is not hoping against hope, for his hope is absolute no matter what happens. The world is coming to an end. So what? With our God, panic is inconceivable.

Third, in times of panic our strength comes from doing for others! A little twelve year old African boy lived with his family in a small village. His name was Lawi. One day as Lawi was babysitting with his little brother while the other members were at work, their little hut caught fire and was quickly enveloped in flames. Lawi was outside but remembering his little brother, he jumped up and ran into the blazing hut, only to find the baby trapped by a burning rafter which had fallen on him. Hurriedly, Lawi worked to free his brother. Finally, he freed him and carried him out and revived him just as the hut caved. By this time the villagers had gathered outside the smoldering ruins. They were very impressed with Lawi and congratulated him: “Lawi you are very brave. Weren’t you frightened? What were you thinking as you ran into the hurning hut? Lawi answered, “I wasn’t thinking anything. I just heard my little brother crying.”

As you know, the President and people of Ukraine are courageously fighting for their freedom and lives. They are not asking us to fight for them, only the equipment and supplies to defend themselves. Over three million Ukrainians have become refugees. The civilian population has been and is being frequently targeted, including homes, hospitals and schools. Inner strength! It’s not just the capacity to endure, but to be compassionate toward others. We can overcome our panic when we hear the cry of our brothers and sisters.