The Supercell

Author: Mary Rozendal — Host: Dylan KraayenbrinkPosted on: March 6, 2024

Unlocked: Daily Devotions for Teens
Unlocked: Daily Devotions for Teens
The Supercell
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READ: PSALM 46; MARK 4:35-41

Have you ever heard the meteorological term supercell? It’s an unusually large storm cell, and its clouds form the shape of a huge anvil. This kind of weather system has separate updrafts and downdrafts, and it produces severe wind and thunderstorms, large hail, and even tornadoes. A supercell can be a good analogy for what it feels like to have a panic attack.

It begins as a gentle breeze in the corner of your mind. “What if…?” Soon, though, it picks up velocity and force and begins to spin out of control, growing larger with each worse-case scenario imagined. The panic takes your breath away and causes your heart to pound as it rips through your mind, leaving you torn and broken, your peace and hope in shambles.

A panic attack is just as real and scary to the person having it as a tornado is to those in its path. Although the damage isn’t always visible, it can be as devastating as a violent storm.

If you’ve experienced debilitating anxiety or a panic attack, you know that it feels like the world is spinning out of control. Fear can be coupled with physical symptoms like heart palpitations, dizziness, or even chest pain. But aren’t Christians supposed to be protected from such things? Doesn’t the Bible say over and over, “Don’t be afraid”? True, God does give us His protection, His comfort, and His presence, but that doesn’t mean Christians are immune to the brokenness in the world, including anxiety and panic attacks.

So how can we find shelter from the winds of worry and fear? The God who made the world and saw that it was good is the same God who came to live among us after that world was broken by sin (Genesis 1:31; John 1:14). He is the same God who was with His disciples in the storm-tossed boat. He stilled the winds, and He says, “I will never leave you or abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5). He died and rose again for us, and He promises to return one day and make all things new—free from sin and its effects, including anxiety and panic attacks. In the meantime, He offers healing in Himself but also by the gifts He has given through medicine and counseling. If anxiety and panic are blowing your calm to bits, know that you are not alone. This doesn’t make you a “bad Christian,” and it doesn’t mean you don’t have true faith. God is with you, even in the middle of your storm. • Mary Rozendal

• Have you experienced anxiety or panic attacks? Sadly, in our world that is broken by sin, many people experience these things at some point in their lives, and this is nothing to be ashamed of. Instead of hiding our pain, God invites us to be honest with Him and with people we trust so we can experience healing.*

• The American Psychological Association describes panic attacks this way: “a sudden onset of intense apprehension and fearfulness in the absence of actual danger, accompanied by the presence of such physical symptoms as heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, chest pain or discomfort, choking or smothering sensations, sweating, and dizziness. The attack occurs in a discrete period of time and often involves fears of going crazy, losing control, or dying” (dictionary.apa.org/panic-attack). A panic attack might follow troubling thoughts or begin during a stressful situation, or it might happen unexpectedly. And panic attacks are not necessarily caused by anxiety; sometimes they are a result of treatable medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism. While having or witnessing a panic attack can be frightening, God is right there with us, grieving our hurts alongside us and holding us securely in His love (Romans 8:38-39). And He provides help, not only through His Word and through prayer, but also through professional counselors, therapists, and doctors who can help find the root cause of a person’s panic attacks and recommend things that can help, such as counseling, medication, or lifestyle changes.

• Do you know someone who suffers from panic attacks or anxiety? How could you offer peace and be a calming presence to them? It’s always a good idea to ask this particular person what would be helpful to them, preferably at a time when they’re feeling calm and safe. Then listen carefully to what they say, and feel free to ask clarifying questions. This is one way we can “carry one another’s burdens” and love each other the way Jesus loves us (Galatians 6:2).

* If you’re struggling with anxiety or if you’ve experienced a panic attack, who is a trusted adult you could talk to about it? If you need someone to talk to, you can set up an appointment for a one-time complimentary phone consultation with a Christian counselor through the Focus on the Family Counseling Service. In the United States, call 1-855-771-HELP (4357) weekdays 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Mountain Time) to set up an appointment. In Canada, book your appointment by calling 1-800-661-9800 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (Pacific Time) and ask to speak with the care associate.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and rescued me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4 (CSB)