I noticed that my legs were shaking as I lay in the hospital bed. They were quivering and I did not know why. At the moment, I was recovering from an operation to take out a blockage in my carotid artery. So why were the legs shaking? It dawned on me that this felt like an anxiety attack. So, where was my faith in God?
Four weeks later I was in another hospital with blocked small intestines. That is also a life threatening condition. Again, the anxiety was obvious. Why? How can that be? I am a believer in Jesus Christ.
Looking for the reason why resulted in a few answers that may apply to many folks. We might share a personal history of good health up until a sudden shock that we are in a life threatening condition. Another possibility is that our body has an impact on our mood, our attitudes, etc. Therefore, when the body is getting into a "fight or flight" mentality, our reaction may be panic.
So, what about solutions for the Christian? How do we engage faith to overcome our fear? God has told us in the Bible several times to not be anxious but to be "of good courage." How does that happen?
For those of us in life threatening conditions who suffer from anxiety, panic, fear in any number of forms, these thoughts may be helpful.
First, ask yourself the question, "Would it help to be fearful?" The obvious is to say, in pure logic, that the answer is "no." So, we are justified in discarding fear. There is no benefit to fear. Matter of fact, anxiety can cause more harm.
Now, how do we displace fear with faith so as to engage courage? Christ told us in John 14: 1 & 2 that we should not let our hearts be troubled, to believe in God the Father and in Christ himself. Isaiah 43: 1-3 tells us that God will go with us through the fire and flood. Psalm 23 tells us that as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death to fear no evil, for God is with us.
Thus, the first step in engaging faith is to realize that we are not alone. God is with us. His Holy Spirit dwells inside the spirit of the genuine Christian. (I Cor. 3:16) And, remember, after all, our times of life are in God's hands. (Psalm 31:15)
The second step for the Christian is to engage with other Christians to mix your faith with theirs in prayer. A man named Jerry prayed for me and his prayer was answered specifically, even to the point in time when the prayer would be answered. That was a miracle. We cannot always be blessed by miracles but we can always pray by using all the faith we have.
Third, we can follow the way of thinking offered in the Bible. Philippians 4: 4-8 starts by telling us to always look for reasons to "rejoice in the Lord". When we remember how Christ forgave us and the joy we felt in being redeemed, we can then remember that joy and call for Christ to help us recover that joy as the strength to face our fears.
Fourth, in ourselves, we can go on by praying about everything with requests mixed with thanksgiving for God hearing our requests. Thus, we are promised the "peace of God" that "passes understanding" to guard our hearts and minds "in Christ". We can visualize ourselves being "in Christ" before the throne of God the Father.
Fifth, we can recall from Romans 8:15 how St Paul tells us that we have not received a spirit of slavery to fear but rather a spirit of adoption as sons so that we can call on our God as a dear Father.
Sixth, we can remember the episode in Matthew 8: 25-27 where the disciples and Jesus, who is sleeping, are in the boat crossing the small sea when a violent storm threatens to capsize the boat. The disciples are panicked, as we might be in our situation. They wake up the Savior and yell at him about his not caring that their lives are in danger. Have we done that to our God? Christ arises, chastises the disciples, then tells the storm to be still. So, in all our panic, we can remember that Christ is in our boat as well.
Finally, if we do not survive physically, we know that our body is like an old tent that eventually must be discarded. But, we are more than the tent. We are spirit and we are soul. And, we are "in Christ". We were in Christ while we were in our body. We will still be in Christ when our body no longer functions. And, we will be on our way to the ride of our life to see what God has in store for those who love Him.
What about the dear one who is not a Christian? In a life threatening situation, such a dear one should fear God, not the situation. Find a way to reconcile with God by repenting of sins and accepting Christ as Lord and Savior. Then, and only then, will these suggestions become viable.