There is an error in reasoning that is commonly committed. The error occurs when we estimate the probability of an outcome based on emotionally-charged possibilities. These possibilities will be perceived as being more likely to regulate future events than those that are harder to picture or are difficult to understand.
Here is a test that will illustrate my point. Rank the following in order of the number of American lives they claim in a typical year: food, guns, terrorists, flu and cars. If you chose guns as number one, you are wrong. The most deadly of the five are cars. One hundred seventeen Americans are killed in automobile accidents each day, which is nearly forty-three thousand a year. Here is another one. Are you safer in an airplane or a car? You are vastly more likely to be killed or maimed while traveling in a car rather than flying in an airplane.
Why do we make this error in our reasoning? Because we fail to see the 'BIG' picture; our lives are dominated by emotionally-charged events. It is these vivid events that direct our thoughts about tomorrow.
What does this mean? It means that making judgments about our future based upon recent, vivid events and not upon a broad body of historical evidence will distort our perceptions of that future.
The devil traps us into thinking that tomorrow will be a catastrophe because we are going through difficult times today. Jesus says, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:34).
Some have said "I cannot keep from worrying about the future." The answer lies in looking at the broad body of historical evidence instead of the emotionally-charged events of the present.
A prime example of this is the case of Job. We are told that Job was a righteous man (Job 1:1-8) of stellar proportions. We are then told that God allowed Satan to take away Job's happiness and well-being. First, Job lost his wealth (Job 1:13-17). Secondly, Job lost his children (Job 1:18-19). Then thirdly, his health was destroyed (Job 2:7-8). Three things that make life precious to everyone were taken from Job. His present circumstance was emotionally-charged with these vivid events. Job could have used his present circumstance to predict that his future was not going to be worth living. And yet, when his wife came to him and challenged him to curse God and die, he responded by saying, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10).
Job's answer expresses his unwavering trust in God. How could he have such trust in God? Because he had a body of historical evidence that convinced him his future would be better. This body of historical evidence came to Job through the teaching he received from his ancestors and his personal experience.
An elementary study of the Bible reveals that God always moves in ways that ensure the future of those who love Him. Paul declared that the future of the righteous will be good by writing, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). The Psalmist points to God's providence by proclaiming "I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread" (Psalms 37:25). Jesus Himself assures those who seek after the righteousness of God that their future needs will be supplied (Matthew 6:25-33).
The Christian needs to look at the whole body of history before succumbing to satanic pessimism. Those who do are the seed which fell among the thorns (Luke 8:7). They become caught-up in the cares of the present day to the point of predicting the future by the emotionally-charged events of the present. Their prediction becomes self fulfilling because they become spiritually choked and fruitless (Luke 8:14).
What can we do to ensure our view of the future is biblically optimistic? We can reject the 'chicken little' syndrome. Remember the children's story about Chicken Little and how that an acorn fell on his head and he ran crying, "The sky is falling"! As a new born babe in Christ, I was told that the local church was about to "split wide open". It never happened. The member who said this was disgruntled and judged the future of the particular church by their emotionally-charged perception of certain events.
The death of one soldier (though tragic) in one skirmish of a war does not equate with loosing the war. Likewise, emotionally-charged problems that arise in our society, the home, the church, or life in general should not cause us to predict a future without joy and happiness.
"For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 5:1).
By Glen Young
Return to the General Articles page
Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /