Last Thursday life dealt me an unexpected jolt (I did have a hand in it). By the time you read this Monday morning, life could look much different for me. And for four days, I’ve borne a familiar stomach knot of anxiety over it.
What if the worst happens?
Something you should know about me: I’m very literal. I engage in military-grade overthinking. That can prompt me to use good theology in bad ways.
God has come through over the years, sometimes in pretty spectacular albeit last-minute ways. But do I trust him to provide for me again? What if this time is different?
I’m fairly committed to the idea that God disciplines us for our good, and that his rod can take any form he sees fit. We can’t place parameters or expectations around his discipline, nor hold it against him if it’s harsher than we desire. That’s just solid theology. (And observable reality.)
But I can twist that, too. The creative lobe of my mind can manufacture all kinds of ugly scenarios God might emplace, then recruit the “solid theology” lobe to counter any “oh, come on, he’s not going to do THAT” reflex. After all, we can’t place limits on how hard God swings his rod, right?
The end result is that I end up imagining the worst-case scenario in most situations and guilt myself into expecting it.
But then I remember the Old Testament.
The Old Testament is one long remembrance of humanity’s forgetfulness. The ancient document records God coming through for his people again and again, and each time the sun seems to rise on an Israel that’s forgotten what he did. A new need arises and Israelites fear that things will be different this time.
The ten plagues free the people from Egypt; they cry out once cornered against the Red Sea.
The water parts and Israel is delivered; the next morning, they wish they had more water.
God slakes their thirst; later, it’s food they are short of.
Bread arrives; they disobey God’s commands and hoard it, though it’s promised to return the next day.
The seventh day approaches; now they’re commanded to hoard, on God’s promise that the bread will keep this time. Instead, they go out looking for more.
And lest you think the Israelites are stumped by new problems, in the very next chapter they’re out of water again, and react in the same way.
Well, I cannot rule out the possibility that God will allow what I most fear today.
But will that destroy me?
Will I forget his goodness past?
The God of the Scriptures didn’t rescue his people on Friday so that they would expect something different on Monday. He rescued them to establish his character and trustworthiness.
Either God delivers me or disciplines me. Either way, I’m not destroyed.
Perhaps I will put an end to this overthinking and simply let God decide what he’s going to do.