Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. [Isaiah 41:10 (MSG)]

The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,” your love, God, took hold and held me fast. When I was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down and cheered me up. [Psalm 94:18-19 (MSG)]

squirrelIn yesterday’s devotion, I mentioned seeing a sign posted at the hospital with the words, “Keep calm and wash your hands.” Seeing a small crown logo on it, I was curious about its origins. It’s actually a variation on a poster produced in 1939 by the British government that said, “Keep calm and carry on.” Produced on the eve of World War II, it was one of three motivational posters distributed to strengthen the national’s morale in wartime England. This one would only be issued in the event of a German invasion. The posters were never needed and, in 1945, most of them were destroyed and forgotten until a few were discovered nearly sixty years later. Since that time, numerous variations of the “keep calm” poster, like the one at the hospital, have been printed. Some of my favorites include the suggestions to keep calm and drink wine, bake brownies or cookies, eat chocolate, smile, blame someone else and call Batman. When faced with a fiasco, calamity or major mess up, I admit to having done all of those things (except call Batman); unfortunately, none were very effective. While all those and more can be done in the face of trouble, perhaps better versions of the poster would include suggestions to remember God loves you, trust in the Lord, or pray on.

Usually, my first response when things suddenly go haywire is anything but keeping calm. While I may seem cool and collected on the outside, my insides are churning and my mind is rushing around a mile a minute. Unable to concentrate and collect my thoughts, my next response usually consists of bursting into tears of frustration, fear, pain or panic. Eventually, I come to my senses and do what I should have done in the first place: take a calming deep breath, remember God loves me, trust in the Lord and His plan, and pray. Only then can I take effective action.

Father in heaven, forgive us when we panic and turn to things or other people when we should be turning to you. Help us remember that if Jesus could calm the troubled waters of the Sea of Galilee, He can easily calm our troubled hearts. In the face of life’s predicaments and calamities, please give us the strength and faith to keep calm and carry on.

You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed. Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan. [John Bunyan]

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. [1 Thessalonians 5:18 (MSG)]