What Is the Difference Between Fear of God and Panic?

Father Andrei Chizhenko explains.
Priest Andrei Chizhenko | 28 October 2020

Today, this topic is especially relevant in connection with the coronavirus pandemic. The fear of God differs from panic in the fact that, when a person succumbs to panic, he or she is detached from the Lord. On the contrary, when a person is filled with the fear of God, he or she is united with Him and approaches Him. The fear of God includes thirst for God, awareness and perception of the Divine presence, the fear of offending God with one’s sin, of withdrawing from the Almighty, and of detachment from Divine grace.

So, the foundation of the fear of God is the perception of the Divine presence. Or, in other words, we must wholeheartedly and unshakably believe in the dogma of the Divine Providence. This is how this dogma is formulated by the Orthodox catechism: “The Providence of God is the unceasing action of the omnipotence, wisdom and goodness of God, with which God preserves the existence and strength of creatures, directs them to good goals, helps them in every good deed, and suppresses or corrects the evil that arises through the removal from goodness suppresses and turns it to good consequences.” Let us also recall the words from the Gospel said by the Savior Himself: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”(Matthew 10: 29-31). And again: “But there shall not an hair of your head perish.” (Luke 21:18). In the interpretation of this biblical texts, the Holy Righteous John of Kronstadt exclaimed: “What complete security is promised to those who suffer for the sake of the truth! The all-powerful Lord of life and death is seen in these words.” I would also like to remind you of the following famous saying: “God is closer to man than the soul is to the body.” That is, He is as close as possible. Symbolically speaking, He always carries us through life in His arms.

Panic begins where faith in the Providence of God is lost. Where a person internally seems to be trying to cut off his connection with the Lord, his Creator, and completely rely on fate (in its ancient Greek pagan understanding), or on karma (in fashionable Indian pagan formulations), or on chance, some kind of chaos , which people are trying to elevate to the rank of a deity, or on their own strength, which happens very often. Very often you can hear this statement: “I, in fact, achieved everything myself.” It is a certain proud motto of life. And such a person, accustomed to living without God, has the opinion that his fragile world – his fragile body, a matchbox of his apartment, the material wealth accumulated by him – is unshakable reinforced concrete. He believes it will always be this way. But when, due to sorrows and trials allowed by God, a person loses all of this or there is a threat to lose it, he succumbs to panic, a state of irrational fiery illogical fear. And if he has lost it, he gets into a state of despondency and despair, which can end in the most terrible mortal sin: taking one’s own life.

Why is this happening? Because one has an incorrect system of values. God is the Holy Trinity: Father and Son and the Holy Spirit. God is not some dead matter that will sooner or later be destroyed. Moreover, God constantly cares about you. If an illness affects one – it was allowed by Him. Turn to Him and be patient, pray, beware, watch out, but be patient. The merciful Lord will not let you perish. He has prepared the best for you. Indeed, you are His treasure, you are His beloved son or His beloved daughter. If you seek Him, in due time He will reveal Himself to you, and this communication with the living God will become the greatest happiness for you!

Translated by pravmir.com

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