I heard a story one time about how shepherds dealt with wayward sheep. When a rebellious sheep would repeatedly drift off from the flock, the shepherd would be forced to break one of its legs. Then, he would gently bind it up and carry the sheep from pasture to pasture as he lead the flock. While the injured sheep could not walk, it depended completely on the shepherd. Later, after the leg was healed, the sheep still stayed close to the shepherd and never drifted away again.
“Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal” (Job 5:17-18).
Am I saying that panic attacks are discipline from the Lord? Maybe for some. For others, maybe not. I do know that these attacks force me to stay close to my Shepherd. When I drift away from him, things all around me seem to crumble, and the anxiety increases. My only choice is to run back to him.
Let me give you a more personal story:
My dad is a dog trainer. One particular dog he had was a great hunting dog, but he wouldn’t obey. My dad would send him out for a bird, and the dog would sniff it out. But, after that, he would run off somewhere and not come back for quite a while. Since my dad hunted near highways and rivers, it was dangerous for the dog to stray off. So my dad bought a shock collar.
Soon, the dog took off again. He had run so far away that I could barely see him. Then, my dad pressed the button, and you could hear a faint “arrrf.” In the distance, you could see the dog high-tailing it back to where we were. He wasn’t walking–he was running. After two episodes with this collar, the dog never needed it again.
Do you think God takes pleasure in allowing these attacks to come? Do you think the shepherd enjoys breaking the leg of his sheep? Do you think my dad was excited about shocking the dog? No. Is this temporary pain needed? In some cases, yes.
In my life, I feel like panic attacks are God’s shock collar for me. Spiritually, I drift away from my Shepherd. I hear my Master’s voice at a distance, but I don’t come running. I continue wandering further and further away–sometimes into dangerous areas. Yet, one attack gets me high-tailing it back to God as fast as I can run.
Prayer: Father, you are the Good Shepherd. Thank you for caring enough about me to “break my leg” when necessary and to carry me on your strong shoulders. Continue to do whatever it takes to keep me close to you.