You will be familiar with the expression, ‘when life throws you a curved ball’ to indicate an unexpected event or series of circumstances that you experience. At times our lives can be quite settled and smooth and then something occurs to jeopardise our equilibrium. That might be hospital tests, bereavement, a change of job, or a child leaving home. Sometimes these changes cause us to be anxious and worry, or worse still to panic. How will we cope? What will happen in the future? And while our rational mind tells us not to panic, our heart can have other ideas.
I came across what has been described as the Stages of Panic. This description of what happens when you find yourself in challenging circumstances might be helpful.
Stage One – “I know God will take care of me.” This is that moment at the beginning of a crisis. Faith fills your heart and you are sure that God has the power to get you through your trouble. You can still smile because you know it won’t be long before it will be all over.
Stage Two – “I think God will take care of me.” When the crisis drags on for about a week the second stage kicks in. You’re still smiling but not as much now. You still believe that God will come to the rescue but he seems to be taking his sweet time getting around to it. As the days pass, little arrows of doubt find their way into your heart, but you rush to pull them out. “Any day now,” you say. But the longer the crisis continues, you smile less, and what-ifs fill your mind and cloud your confidence. You start planning for the worst. Still, in your better moments you believe God can come through for you, but your doubt is almost as big as your faith.
Stage Three – “There’s no way God will take care of me.” At this point doubt has won the battle and faith is in retreat. Anger and despair replace hope and joy. What a fool you were to trust in God! He never meant to help you. God has deserted you. You’ve been beaten.
Stage Four – “I don’t know how he did it, but God took care of me!” Your depression is gone, the crisis is over, you have overcome your depression, you are able to cope, and you feel better about yourself. How did it happen? As you look back, you’re not sure. You are sure of only one thing: God did it! You had nothing to do with it.