Panic attacks

I remember distinctly the first time I was made aware of the death of Sisera the commander of the armies of the Canaanite king, Jabin of Hazor. My husband is a numismatist, a coin enthusiast, and he had bought a set of coins from the Franklin Mint collectively called the Thomason Medallic Bible. One of the coins depicts Sisera lying by Jael’s tent with a tent peg through his temples. I had never heard that story. This morning when I read the Bible to my husband at breakfast, today’s reading included  Judges 4:1-24, the battle of the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun at the Kishon River against King Jabin’s armies headed by Sisera.

What was in my mind as I began to read this passage was the image of the tent peg through Sisera’s temples, but something else in this passage grabbed my attention today.  There was Sisera with 900 chariots and all of his warriors. I imagine they were quite a sight as they marched toward the two tribes of Israel who did not own a single chariot. The prophetess Deborah, then judge over these tribes, said to Barack, their army commander,

“Get ready! Today the Lord will give you victory over Sisera, for the Lord is marching ahead of you.”

Verse 15 says, “When Barack attacked, the Lord threw Sisera and all his charioteers and warriors into a panic. Then Sisera leaped down from his chariot and escaped on foot.”

I was having lunch with my sister last week and she had just come from her counselor. She has had some devastating things happen in her life and has gone for some help to be able to cope. She was telling me that they have asked her to describe what it feels like when she is having a panic attack. She says she can’t describe it unless she is in the middle of one. She says the intensity and feelings of desperation cannot be brought back when one is not in the midst of one. Anything that you thought happened to you during the panic attack is not half what you really experienced because you cannot take it all in when it is hitting you. Each and every nuance of the attack comes together in full force to give you an overwhelming sense of fear, foreboding and dread, but you cannot identify a source.

So, each and every charioteer and foot soldier in the Canaanite army of King Jabin under the leadership of Sisera fell into a panic. The battle ended up being a chase and all Sisera’s warriors were killed fleeing the scene of battle. Sisera, however, thought he found asylum in the tent of Heber and Jael, who were on friendly terms with King Jabin. Heber, however, was a descendent of Moses’ brother-in-law Hobab. (In this case, the old adage “Blood is thicker than water.” bore out.) Jael, the wife of Heber, hammered a tent peg through Sisera’s skull while he was sleeping. When Barack came by to find him, he was dead.

I have had a panic attack or two in my lifetime. They are horrible. The scene that day with thousands of warriors in panic must have been quite something. You just never know how God will move. He is wholly unpredictable in actions, but we can always depend on His love. And, if you’re being torn up with disappointment, suffering and loss, He IS there and He does care. What is happening to us is not the issue. The issue is what we do with what is happening to us.

May we be found faithful,

Dawnn

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13 comments on “Panic attacks

  1. Dawn, your sister is so right — there just is no way to describe a panic attack after the fact. It’s like trying to describe the reality of a nightmare the next day. The “nightmare” effect just isn’t there. I have seen a friend in the midst of one, though, and it seemed that all of life closed in on her as impending doom and all that could possibly happen to her was as close as could be.

    It would have been interesting to know what “spoofed” this army. The Lord surely knew what would spoof a horse, though, and it worked.

    It all goes back to knowing the enemy, doesn’t it? Kind of like Craig’s horses in the corral. I remember talking at length with this same lady about these panic attacks and what I could do to help her. We began a list of all the possible things that could happen or go wrong. Next to each, we then added possible solutions if there were any (all had at least one). We even added phone numbers, even if it was 911. The last thing we did was rate them all from 1 – 10, with the question, “Is this a biggie?”
    It kind of became joke later on because it worked so well. She would call me, all upset and anxious, and my first question would be, “Is this a biggie?” And she would give me a number from 1 – 10. Never once did we get near 10.

    I had my closet to hide in as a child, and the panic and the darkness was beyond description. It was definitely a 10. It took time, but God does take these things and changes us and makes us more like Himself — if we allow Him to. Some people have described me as almost dissociative as I’m “too calm” now. I call it trust. Thank you for this today, Dawn. It gave me new courage to fight those negative voices (horses in my corral!).

    • Dearest Cora,

      I am so glad this was helpful to you. This is the second time you mentioned the ranking of the fears and so I know it was something that you really saw work in your friend’s life. I am going to see my sister in about an hour for lunch. I will share this system with her and perhaps she will find it helpful, too. I gave her Joyce Meyer’s book, “Battlefield of the Mind,” at the beginning of summer. She found that extremely helpful. She’s working her way through it a second time. I praise the Lord for such helps.

      Thank you and I want you to know I am praying as you head out to the coral,
      Dawn

  2. Jael has been one of my all-time favourite Bible characters for many years. To me the story is a very vivid description of our ability in Christ to strike down the enemy that assaults our minds . . . to take captive every thought and make it be obedient to Christ. The LORD will indeed “march ahead of us” and send the foot soldiers in a panic, but I have found that I personally must take a stand against the leader of the enemy troops . . . part of my process for renewing my mind. I realize that this may sound harsher, more militant even, than my usual comments. That is how the LORD has refashioned me . . . I used to be soft on the enemy (scared of) and hard on people, but the LORD has flipped that around and now I generally deal gently with people but aggressively with the enemy when I recognize him.

    “Always depending on His love” – thanks for the encouraging words at the end of your post, Dawn

    • Andrea Dawn,

      I have not been so blessed by a comment since my revelation over at Danelle’s on August 8. I do indeed see you as the kinder, gentler artful woman, but your post heartened me. I love how you tell about being refashioned to be tough on the enemy albeit gentle with people. That spoke volumes to me in ways you may never know. I must be refashioned on the gentler side, but this post brought to my awareness that that does not mean I get soft on the enemy. I was missing that piece. A post is formulating in my mind about all this. Please share what you think when I get it done. You will know the post because I will mention you in it.

      You are so becoming my sister in my heart. Jesus knew I needed to walk beside you for awhile. Thanks for your companionship in the journey,
      Dawn

  3. I brought a copy of Ann;s book, One Thousand Gifts, to Thea, the founder of the children’s home I visit here. (tlc.org.za) She has already wrapped me in grateful hugs for the blessing this book is being for her. Like Deborah, she jumped in when she saw the need and believed God for the victory… since that day some 18 years ago she, along with her five biological children, have placed near 800 abandoned infants in forever homes around the world. They have a nursery of 40 under 3 years old and another 30 in their care from 3-18 years old that they have either adopted or are working on doing so…Their needs are always so great but she finds God has always been faithful and the beautiful testimony that I witness to this each day as I am here in SA is indeed inspiring. Where there is great love, God is….
    Loved your post~

    • Dear, Dear Susan,

      You are the one who sent me over to Andrea Dawn’s site. You are doing mission work in cyberspace even as you cradle children in South Africa. I thought about you when I posted my world missions blog today, how you are right there in the center of everything. And how they need your great love to give them a bit of a break from all they must give 24/7.

      And, being there, you are being refueled, not emptied, much like the widow’s oil jar and flour container in Ezekiel.

      God is good,
      Dawn

  4. Dawn, that picture of the woman was especially poignant in view of your article. I feel for your sister. I went to ER once with a full blown panic attack, not realizing that is what it was. I truly thought I was dying. I am very grateful for the friend-married-who answered my phone call at 2 in the morning and took me in, (and we both were supposed to work in the morning…and she did), and for the male nurse who so patiently took my vitals and attended to me. Panic attacks are no fun, and I am glad your sister is getting help.

    I agree with you about the wisdom in what Andrea shared. What a helpful, orienting perspective! Be tough on evil, and gentle with people.

  5. Fun to read through all this again… Your last words… “may we be faithful” Yes!
    And I am so thankful that He is ever faithful to help us both will and do of His good pleasure!

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