Pastor's Monthly Message for December 2008

No Time for Panic

During the last months, we hear of financial meltdown, industries failing, foreclosures and a host of other threats. There are times when we don't know what our next move should be and there seems to be a time when organizations and individuals are driven to panic. When the situation is difficult and a quick response is called for, we all become very uneasy. We should like to turn and run. Gandhi once said, "Panic is the most demoralizing state anyone can be in".

Through the years people have panicked for many reasons and the results have usually been very negative. Panic is a sudden, overwhelming fear, once that makes us irrational and most of the time, irresponsible. We cannot think clear while in a state of panic.

To avoid the onset of this emotion, we must recognize some of the symptoms; a feeling of despair, the belief that there is no solution, and the conviction that we are alone without any help. Panic can occur suddenly, or it can build slowly and gradually erode common sense, leaving us stranded with our imagination running wild.

May of us still remember the panic created by Orson Wells, Ware of the Worlds - a great epic of fiction, but to many the fear it created was as real as if an invasion of the earth had actually taken place. When we don't have our facts straight, we lose contact with the world and panic sweeps in to control. True, a problem may exist, bu it is most often much less serious than we imagined. Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.

As we examine the world around us, it is easy for us to become frightened and them panic. We observe the growing pollution, we read about the energy crisis, experience food and fuel shortage and face economic uncertainty. These are real problems, yes, but they are not solved with quick, emotional responses. Solutions will be found and life will go on. As Epictetus said, "We must make the best use of what is in our power, and take the rest as it happens". But to panic and take refuge from life is to refuse life itself.

It is often said that moderation in all things is good, and that certainly holds true for our emotions. To quote the late Gandhi, "There is never any cause for panic. One must keep heart whatever happens".

Pastor Hans Lillejord