Overcoming the Fear of Worst-Case Scenarios

by Maggie Buckley


When I was a kid, my prayers sounded like this:


Dear God,

Please bless Mommy, Daddy, Annie (my aunt), Michael (my brother), and myself.

Please bless all the cats (I listed these by name; we had four of them), grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. (I listed these by name, of course, too!).


If I didn’t fall asleep after naming every relative and friend I knew, the next part went like this:


Please protect our family from fire, tornadoes, earthquakes, kidnapping, tsunamis, flooding, burglars, quicksand, amputation, electrocution, a tree falling on our house, shark attacks, jellyfish, etc. . . . (This list was quite extensive!)


I would continue to list any catastrophe that I could think of until I fell asleep. If I woke up the next morning and hadn’t completed my litany of protection, I would be contrite, worried that God was angry that I could fall asleep while praying, and oh-so-thankful that none of the tragedies I had missed had occurred during the night! Clearly, I felt that God needed my help to point out all of the things that could afflict us so he wouldn’t miss anything!


This past Sunday at our church, our senior minister talked about how many people fear worst-case scenarios. You can check out his message here.


Gloom and Doom

When I took the Enneagram personality test, I scored highest as a Six. My report stated that “Sixes are defined by a deep uncertainty and mistrust of the world, and by a desire to secure a safe position for themselves to defend against threats. Sixes maintain a sense of vigilance, always anticipating and planning for the worst.” This is scarily accurate! My mind is often looking for worst-case scenarios and how to mitigate or avoid them.


Our world doesn’t help with this. We have Breaking News! available 24/7. Our social media scrolls are often interrupted with crazy headlines of doom and disaster. Any minor medical question you may search for often takes you down a rabbit hole of symptoms all culminating in death. And, we all know of that one person who had one seemingly benign symptom and then died from some insidious medical event.


I’ve had my own medical mysteries this last year that have taken me down the rabbit hole of worry. I’ve had scans, bloodwork, procedures, and more to determine the whys of various symptoms and discomfort. I’m thankful that nothing serious has been detected, but it has taken a toll on my mental health. I do not like the feelings of anxiety, and I do not like the lack of control!


I have to step back and remind myself of GOD’s control in my life. He is not sitting above spinning the Wheel of Doom for me, or for anyone else. These fears do not define me, and they will not last forever. And, regardless of what happens in my future, God has a plan, he is not surprised, and he is with me.


God spoke these words to Joshua, who took over leadership of God’s people after his mentor Moses had died. Perhaps you need to hear them today as well.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NIV).


He’s Got This

Last weekend, my husband and I waited as our oldest kid (22 years old) went skydiving for the first time. If you ever need to “practice” handing things over to God, watching your child go skydiving is definitely a way to do it! We watched as Jack boarded the plane. Twelve hours of instruction was all that was needed for him to jump out of a plane at 14,000 feet—with an instructor on each side of him until he deployed his chute at 10,000 feet. We peered into the sky, squinting to see those first parachutes pop open. Our son was to be the last parachute, an American flag design. We saw a green one, an orange one, a blue and red one . . . FINALLY we saw one in red, white, and blue—so we knew his parachute had opened! Of course, we could only relax once we saw him land . . . and stand back up!


I cling tightly to my desire to manage (or micromanage) the things in my life. But, there are so many things in which I have to turn it over to God because it’s beyond my scope or ability. Trying to control everything leaves me frustrated and exhausted. God invites me to rest in his power and his promises. I’m thankful for a big, big God who has it all under control.


If you’re like me, and you struggle with worst-case scenarios, I invite you to let these Scriptures wash over you today:


“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The Lord works out everything to its proper end” (Proverbs 16:3, 4, NIV).


“The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 118:6, NIV).


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28, 29, NIV).


Maggie Buckley has been a member of Christ’s Church for sixteen years. A former first grade teacher, Maggie has been married to David for twenty-six years, and they have two college-age sons. She creates scrapbooking kits for digital scrapbookers, and loves her nerd room full of over 200 Funko Pop characters and action figures.

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