Devotional for Wednesday July 15th

Good Morning Everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Fresh wind, fresh fire”
Our Bible verse for today: “Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For the Lord your God is the one who will go with you; he will not leave you or abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Stop expecting the worst”
Yesterday I suggested that we could all gain a little fresh wind in our sails and fresh fire in our souls if we would stop focusing so much on just the snapshot of time in which we live. Instead, we should take a step back and look at the big picture of God’s sovereignty over all the events of human history, from the beginning of time until today. When we do that it helps us to realize that God is indeed “large and in-charge”, and that as time passes, events and situations fade away.
In the research for their book, “The Coddling of the American Mind: How good intentions and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure”, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt discovered that one of the reasons today’s college students tend to be so fearful and defensive, convinced that sinister forces are aligned against them and intend to do them harm, is because they tend to engage in a pattern of thought known as “catastrophizing”. It’s the belief that the worst possible outcome in any situation is the most likely outcome, and it is going to be awful. That then causes them to be emotionally triggered and they act out in irrational and often irresponsible ways.
Those students tend to be liberal in their social and political views and so their irrational emotionally triggered responses lead them to left-wing extremes. But conservatives sometimes engage in catastrophizing in the other direction. A common narrative we hear today, especially from far-right commentators, is that the leftward drift currently occurring in our national politics is the result of a vast and diabolical conspiracy that is leading us to socialism, or worse.
Hmmm … maybe. But probably not. If you step back and look at the big picture of U.S. history you immediately see that the political pendulum regularly and dependably swings back and forth from right to left and back again. We had conservatives George Washington and John Adams, but then there was the liberal Thomas Jefferson. We had conservative Teddy Roosevelt, but soon after that there was Woodrow Wilson. We had the liberals FDR and Truman, but then Eisenhower; there was Kennedy and Johnson, and then Nixon; Carter and then Reagan; Clinton followed by Bush followed by Obama followed by Trump. Back and forth it goes – so let’s not make more of this than it really is. There have been conservative shifts, liberal shifts, and even socialist and communist scares in our history more than once in the past and yet, here we are today, the strongest form of democracy there is, in the freest nation on the planet, with the best free-market economy in the world.
Let’s avoid catastrophic or fatalistic thinking. It just makes everything worse. It can make us as individuals irrational in our thinking and responses, and also, living in that state of mind is physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually exhausting. And, it only adds to the overall sense of anger, despair and frustration in society.
Would you like some fresh wind in your sails and some fresh fire in your soul? Then stop brooding about and expecting the worst of possible outcomes. Be engaged in the social and political process, do your part to make things better, trust God, and then don’t give in to fear or despair. Stop expecting the worst.
God Bless,
Pastor Jim
Copyright © 2020 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

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