We’ve all had the experience of being stressed over some future event. We think about it and go over all the possible scenarios and how to react to them, and what we could possibly do to avoid the worst scenario. I call this state of mind, negative anticipation. It happened to me at Christmas a few years back, but God came through with a wonderful and amazing solution on how to stay happy.
There’s a woman my family has known for many years. She’s not a pleasant person to be around. My mom has kindly befriended her and every so often they meet for lunch. However, over the past few years this woman has started inviting herself to our family’s Christmas. No one in my family likes it when she comes because traditionally she starts bad-mouthing people right after she walks in the door and says her first “hello.” Last year she started in with, “Wow, you’ve gained weight!” Then she started in on my sister, “Why hasn’t your daughter come over to help me in my yard?!” She would just go from person to person with the derogatory remarks.
The Bible says in Luke 6:44 “For every tree is known by his own fruit.” This woman is 90 years old now, but instead of growing sweeter with age, she’s turned out to be very sour grapes. I do feel sorry for her sometimes, because she probably doesn’t realize how distasteful she has become. And she doesn’t have many friends. But just because I feel sorry for her, it certainly doesn’t make me want her to come over on Christmas day. Maybe some other time, but not Christmas.
In anticipation of her coming, most everyone tries to ignore her by either getting involved in a board game, or whatever happens to be on TV. The unfortunate one who has not figured it out, or has decided not to get involved in the board game or TV, gets stuck with Edith. Actually I’m usually that person, playing interference so that others can be left free to enjoy the day. I rack my brain and try to come up with as many questions as possible to ask her about the past and letting her talk about herself.
My sister and I thought that this year we were going to be free of Edith. She hadn’t talked to my mom in awhile and, as of the third week in December, had not called to invite herself to Christmas. We held our breath. It was about a week before Christmas and I had driven up from Las Vegas. I decided to stop at the local store before going up to mom’s. Guess who I saw at the store? No, not Edith, but my sister. She looked down at the ground and told me the bad news, “Edith’s coming for Christmas.”
“Oh no, this is not good,” I thought. “Yet another year where Christmas day was not one of relaxing, but of fending off Edith and her foul mouth.” I started to picture myself getting Edith off in a corner of the room away from others and engaging in conversation. I anticipated the work of coming up with questions and keeping her going as long as possible, and trying to direct the talking toward funny stories and good memories. I was living out the whole dreary scenario in my head. I spent quite a lot of mental and emotional time trying to anticipate how it might be.
Then God gave me a revelation and a new thought popped into my mind: “This hasn’t even happened yet. It doesn’t really have to happen at all!” I was anticipating and running through scenarios and living through an event of the future, as if it were certain. It wasn’t. I realized that I was basing my plans totally on what someone else had said about what was to happen. It was an event that was only predicted with words so far, but I had mentally already made it a reality.
In an instant, I realized that with God there is no time, so instead of making plans and mental attitudes for something based solely on what others said, I could say something different and my words would have just as much impact on the future as anyone else’s. In fact, concerning this particular event, I knew that my words would have more impact, because God was letting me know that I could do it. I could spiritually stop the event that would bring the devil’s division and confusion to our family Christmas.
So I prayed, saying, “I come against those words that said she’s coming and I send out angels to stop her at every turn, in Jesus’ name.”
Two days later my sister told me, “Edith’s not coming.”
I’m pretty sure all of us have been in situations where we have anticipated how things would be in the future. For instance: “If he says this, then I will say this. Then he will probably say that, and I will say this. Then he’ll get mad, and then I’ll do such and such,” and it goes on. Often we’ve made up not only one scenario but many different ones to handle all the possibilities.
What if we stopped doing that?
So many anticipated miseries could be avoided, and so much more time could be restored to us, time that we would enjoy thinking about other things, rather than wasting time going over and over things that have not even happened! And the awesome thing is that the anticipated misery may not have to happen at all!
When so much of our thought is going into what we’re going to say or do in an anticipated future situation, we aren’t really living to the fullest in the present. We can only think one thought at a time, and how much of the present do we miss by spending so much wasted thought on an anticipated event that may or may not even need to take place at all. By giving energy to it with our thoughts and words, we give it life. We help cause negative events to take place because we allow, anticipate and participate in them mentally—we live them before they exist.
We can certainly stop ourselves. Negative anticipation is one of the devil’s best setups. If he can trap us into thinking in the future, he can get us to set up our own negative future events. In my situation, God gave me revelation to let me know that my words would be more powerful than the other words I heard, and that with the assistance of angels (Heb. 1:14) I could put a stop to the devil’s setup.
But what about when we can’t stop the actual scenario?
My friend Marilyn had this experience when anticipating a miserable Thanksgiving. She didn’t get a revelation to reverse the event, like I did. Instead, the grace of God had a surprise in store for her, and her Thanksgiving ended up being a great one. Read about it in: http://almost-like-real-life.blogspot.com/2010/11.
She had gotten so worked up over the perceived happenings, that it pushed her over the edge. She made the decision to stop caring entirely and just let go. With that decision, she could just drop the negative anticipation and face whatever scenario presented itself at the moment of its manifestation. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Pet. 5:7)
Marilyn decided to do what it says in Luke 12: 11-12. “And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.”
Whenever we come into a situation where there’s a chance we may not do the right thing, where we think that we may be judged, or judge ourselves, we need to have enough of a sense of our God-given righteousness and trust in the Holy Spirit to give us the words and actions we need for that particular event. Instead of anticipating negatives, we can expect the help of the Lord to give us total victory. “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15: 57).
Often we get ourselves into a mess by caring too much about the wrong things. In my situation I could have thought I had to be more caring about Edith’s desire to be with us at Christmas. But that would have been wrong. What about caring more about what God wanted, and about the feelings of my family? The Apostle Paul tells us: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). Too often we put unbelievers and others who are outside the household, first. We become more thoughtful and kind to others than we are to ourselves, our spouses and our family members.
Caring too much about a situation makes us anxious about it. Matthew 6:34 says: “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” The Greek word for “thought” in this verse is the word merimneoo. It means to “be full of anxiety which divides up and distracts the mind.”
If we allow ourselves to go with negative anticipation, we get over-anxious and distracted. I also looked up the word “evil” in this verse and it is the Greek word kakia, which means malignity or malice. Malice is “evil intent, active ill will, desire to harm.” And malignity “suggests extreme and virulent malevolence that is relentless in expressing itself.”
The devil is called the thief in John 10:10 and he comes “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” If he can get us to “take [over-anxious] thought” about anticipated events, he will be relentless in bringing up dozens of possible scenarios, stealing our mental time, destroying our emotions and killing our soul. The devil would like to take over our every day with his malice.
It is our right to take charge of situations for God’s sake, for the sake of the greater good. To do that, we have to believe in our righteousness before God. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21). “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:24).
Philippians 4:6 records: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” The Greek word for “careful” in this verse is the same word (merimneo) as the word for “thought” from Matthew 6:34, meaning over-anxious. God doesn’t want us to anxious about anything.
We need to become aware of the times when we get consumed and overly anxious about an anticipated negative situation. We need to stop ourselves from being a victim of the devil’s malignant nature to steal, kill and destroy our thought time, our emotions, our happiness and our futures. We are not “sheep for the slaughter” (Rom. 8:36).
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:37-39) [Emphasis mine.]
We always have the victory over anticipated negatives when we claim our right to stop them or drop them.
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