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Survival Tip #1: Don’t Panic

Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
–Joshua 1:9

The flight to California had been routine. David Koch sat in the first-class cabin, looking out the window as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. They would be landing soon. Moments later he heard the familiar screech of the tires as the 737 touched down on the runway. Then Koch said he heard “a sudden, sickening crunch” and saw the bright flash of a fireball. Screams filled the aircraft. As the plane skidded along the runway, the flight attendants shouted, “Stay down!” The plane came to a violent stop, and another explosion rocked the cabin. The fuselage went dark and began filling with smoke. No instructions came from the flight attendants, so the passengers began running toward the back of the plane. Trying to stay below the smoke, Koch crawled toward the back of the plane too. “I encountered a fighting, frenzied mob jamming the aisle,” he said. “Escape was probably impossible because I was last in line to get out the rear exit. I concluded that I was probably going to die.” He was not panicked; he was resigned. Choking on the smoke, he walked back to the first-class cabin. “For a few long moments I stood there, immobilized, not knowing what else to do,” he said. Then it came to him: if smoke was coming in from the front of the plane, then there had to be an opening that might offer a way of escape. He worked his way toward the cockpit, but he saw flames licking the door. Guessing he had maybe had ten or fifteen seconds left before he would fall unconscious, he turned and saw a crack in the fuselage. It was the galley door. He wedged his fingers into it and pulled, and it opened to the outside. He thrust his head through and gulped a few breaths of air. “A tremendous sense of strength came over me, and a wave of adrenaline shot through my body,” Koch said. He jumped down to the asphalt ten feet below, where other survivors were scattered about the burning aircraft. “I consider it a miracle that I escaped,” Koch said, “and that I came through the ordeal as well as I did.”

As Christians we are living in a threatening environment that is just as real as the crisis situation Koch faced that day. We have an adversary, the devil, who is intent on destroying everything important to us. We have a culture that is increasingly hostile to the things of God. And if that were not enough, we all carry around the residuals of a sinful nature that is opposed to everything God wants for our life. How can we ever hope to survive that kind of environment?

This week we are going to look at the first of ten survival tips, and it is the one that Koch illustrated on that flight: don’t panic. The number one survival rule in any threatening situation is don’t panic, and yet that is exactly what most of us do–we panic. So how do we not panic when we are faced with a dangerous situation? That is what we are going to learn this week.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Survival Tip #1: Don’t Panic” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.

Ben Sherwood, “The Survivors Club” (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2009), 66-68.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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