By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  September 10, 2016

            No matter how bad things may seem, chances are they can be worse. In fact, given the creativity of the human imagination, it is not hard to come up with any number of scenarios of how things can get worse. Christianity holds a different course of action and thought.
            It is called “Catastrophic Thinking” and often takes the form of focusing on a solitary event, imagining dire and fatalistic consequences resulting from that event that one becomes paralyzed and crushed by fear and dread. Worse yet, the mere belief that the worst could happen may actually bring on the very consequence one fears the most.
            Imagine making a serious mistake at work and recognizing that there will be negative consequences. One might think, “I’m going to lose my job over this and my family will starve. I’ll lose all respect and won’t be able to pay my mortgage. Next, my spouse will leave me, my children reject me, and I’ll be living on the streets in no time as the horrible loser I’ve become.”
            There a couple of points in this unemployment scenario that are worth noting. First, it is an extreme possibility. In all likelihood, the downward spiral of self-destruction is probably never going to happen. Perhaps there will be a formal discipline that takes place, but no loss of job. Even when things do go bad, chances are they will not be that bad. It is the worry that is destructive.
            The second point, and perhaps the most important, is that worrying about the worst possible outcome actually destroys the mental, emotional, and spiritual energy necessary to face the actual consequences. Excessive worry and fretting does just this. By consuming all of our resources on imagining the horrific possible—even if highly improbable—outcomes, it is easy to completely lose sight of what truly is.
            Worse yet, in many cases, the mere fear of a horrible outcome can actually stimulate behavior which helps bring about the most feared result. Again, consider the hypothetical situation of making a big mistake at work. Imagine if the result of the mistake was truly the loss of a job. It is a bad situation but, if the one now looking for a new job sees that end-result as a complete loss of friends, family, and home, the fear of losing everything will weigh so heavily on their spirit that it will show through in future job interviews and erode job opportunities. The resulting deflated self-esteem can actually slump so low that one draws inward, too afraid to try for new employment, too ashamed to reach out for help, too afraid to learn from the mistake. Ultimately, it is the catastrophic worry that brings about the very result the worrier most feared—a result that truly could have been avoidable.
            Paul talks about this kind of worry in Philippians 4:6. In a simple phrase, “do not worry about anything,” Paul references the importance of not allowing one’s self to become all consumed with fear, dread, or anxiety over that which the believer has no control. Some translations use the word “anxious” instead of “worry,” but the meaning is the same. When negativity and fear of the unknowable future dominates our present consciousness, our minds are not on the things of God.
            Jesus also speaks of this in Matthew 6:25-34 when saying, “Do not worry,” He goes on to say that worry will never help one overcome the challenges of the moment, nor will they do anything to empower one for success. Worry only tears down and places emotional chains of self-destruction upon the believer. Worry has no place in Christian practice or faith. As people of faith let us leave the worry to God and let us be consumed with Christ and his love!