Panic Attacks — My Past Haunts Me

Question from a Site Viewer
I have been struggling with severe anxiety and panic attacks for half this year now. I really thought I was going to die. Years ago, my life took a turn for the worse. I insulted the Holy Spirit. I said I hated Him. Then I asked forgiveness. Then I did it again. This went on for some time. Eventually I repented and began fully following Jesus. But now I can’t believe that I did and said these things and these panic attacks make me feel as if I’m on the verge of death. My past haunts me. What can I do?

Tim’s Answer
First, I want you to know that your struggles are not unique. Satan’s devices to attack our lives are well worn with years of use. One of his finest tools is to resurrect matters that have long been resolved. And when our minds are stressed, all sorts of remembrances come to mind. But we are not helpless. The best thing we can do is be prepared and on our guard, as Scripture admonishes us (1 Peter 5:8-9).

If we know that Satan is likely to bring up our past in the future, then we need to be prepared to deal with this. When our past is resurrected, we need to remember the God who has been with us since the time of our sin and confession. It is our ongoing love and walk with God that is the greatest evidence of the surety of our salvation, as the Apostle John strongly argues in the little book of 1 John. If we seek to serve God in the ways He has set forth in His Word, if we draw our heart to Him and grow in love to Him and to others; if we by these things seek the eternal life He has promised, if we cling to His promises and hold fast to Him, we will find His arms open wide to us. We will also find the peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7) guarding our hearts.

This does not mean that we will not have panic attacks, heart attacks, strokes, adrenalin rushes. It also does not mean that our past will not come back to mind. But we can consciously choose not to dwell on the past, but to focus on what lays before us (Philippians 3:13-14). We are told to think on good things (Philippians 4:8), which at least strongly suggests that we have a role in choosing what our minds contemplate. God is merciful. And God delights in those who hope in His mercy (Psalm 147:11). We all fix our hope on His mercy (Titus 3:5).

My encouragement to you is to continue walking with God. Note the evidences of God in answers to prayers and in His working in your life. Mark these down. They are God-signs on the path of life, places where God makes it clear that He is with you and for you. Do not forget His wonderful works that He does for you, in both little and big things. This journal of God-signs will give you a grounding that not even Satan will be able to shake in times of questioning. You will remember the God who is with you and for you.

You brought up the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. This passage has troubled many, and often those for whom it was not intended to trouble. Christ did not speak the word to those who had called out in faith to Him and sought to follow Him, but at some point of weakness spoke against the Holy Spirit. Christ spoke the words to those who had hardened their hearts to the work of the Spirit of God in Jesus so that they may not be saved. It is precisely this persistent rejection of God in spite of all of the evidence that ultimately becomes the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (in my view). You might be encouraged to read our two articles on this subject. The Unpardonable Sin and The Unpardonable Sin, Part II.

May the Lord Jesus reaffirm Himself to you and may you respond with love, adoration, and service to our great God and King who came to this earth as a baby, taking on flesh and blood so that they (His flesh and blood) could be poured out for our sins.

One who has endured similar attacks by the enemy,

a servant,

tim

One thought on “Panic Attacks — My Past Haunts Me

  1. Henry

    You wrote, “But we can consciously choose not to dwell on the past, but to focus on what lays before us …” I believe you mean well and you intend on helping others. It is right to point people toward God. However, there are problems that need serious help.

    For example, this person could possibly have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Maybe they’ve been sexually assaulted, or someone attempted to murder them, or they almost drowned after their car ran off a bridge. You simply can’t say that people can consciously choose to not dwell on the past when people with PTSD or some sort of trauma can’t control it. There’s a reason that people with PTSD need help. The nightmares come and it isn’t something you can just “not think about”. Some of the questions you answer on your site should be left to professional counselors.

    Reply

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