I’ve learned a lot from my dad, but one of the most important things he taught me was that in a crisis, step one is to stop the bleeding. This is to do what it takes to stop the immediate threat and prevent further damage. But more importantly, step zero is to not panic. Because you can’t get to step one if you panic. Furthermore, the reason why it’s step zero is because it isn’t an action, it’s the choice to take the first step without the distraction of panic.
In this pandemic season, every source of media has been mutilating statistics in order to cause hysteria. The anxiety levels in individuals are through the roof over health, finances, or other worries about what could happen. But as we spend time in our heads thinking of everything that could go wrong, we miss the opportunity to prevent future losses because of this panic mindset.
One story in the Bible comes to mind that describes an instant panic decision is Uzzah and Ahio guiding the Ark of the covenant on a cart. Uzzah reached out to steady the Ark on the cart because the oxen stumbled, but as his skin made contact, he was dead.
When I was younger, that story used to bother me because someone was punished so severely for trying to save something so sacred to God. But as I look at this story, I see a different perspective. I identify that his decision was out of panic. In that moment of panic, he put his faith into his own hands rather than trusting God not to let it fall. Now it’s hard to think about that level of faith, but it’s also a level of obedience because they weren’t supposed to touch it. But in the heat of the moment, he acted in disobedience and showed his lack of faith.
Not all situations are a split second decision though. In Matthew 8, the disciples were out at sea with Jesus sleeping in the boat as they reach a storm. In a panic, the disciples woke up Jesus telling Him they’re going to drown. Jesus responds in disappointment of the level of faith in the moment. Now some of us might say we wouldn’t panic if Jesus was in or boat during the storm. But right now, Jesus is with you in your boat during this storm.
As you think through these stories, maybe you can relate during this time of mass hysteria or maybe you’re panicked for another reason. I’m not saying there isn’t reason to be scared, or that it isn’t valid to feel anxious, because there is. But my challenge for you today is to stop panicking, so you can take the first step of faith and believe that everything will be okay. Jesus hasn’t abandoned you during the storm, and He doesn’t plan to leave you now. With a clear mind, choose step zero, so you can take step one.
“Suddenly, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘LORD, save us! We’re going to drown!’ He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” -Matthew 8:24-26
“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” -Proverbs 12:25
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” -Lamentations 3:22-23