Thursday, January 19, 2023
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Listen while you read: "Lord This Day Thy Children Meet"1 (Lyrics)

Deuteronomy 28:66-67 – Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread and have no assurance of your life. In the morning you shall say, "If only it were evening!" and at evening you shall say, "If only it were morning!" because of the dread that your heart shall feel, and the sights that your eyes shall see. (ESV)

I have an acquaintance who wakes up each and every day of her life with the absolute conviction that life is just awful and will never get any better. While trying to find help for her to cope with this anxiety, I found that this condition actually has a name — awfulizing — defined as imagining a situation to be as bad as it can possibly be. I also learned that this morning dread is associated with an elevated level of the hormone cortisol (often called the "stress hormone").

The Bible is no stranger to those suffering anxiety and dread, as reflected in today's passage from Deuteronomy. Assuming the worst is rarely helpful. People who study this refer to three contributing elements:

  • Insecurity — something bad is going to happen
  • Helplessness — there is nothing that I can do
  • Isolation — there is no one to help me

Those of us who follow the way of Jesus should help people who find the days and nights filled with dread and anxiety and despair. We can challenge such persons to focus on what they can control. We can invite them to keep a journal and write down what they might be grateful for. We can encourage them to list at least three things that they are looking forward to. We can remind them of the Scripture which says, "I want you to be free from anxieties." (1 Corinthians 7:32a ESV)

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (ESV)

Prayer: God, help us to cast all our anxieties on You. We know that You care for us, but sometimes, we forget. Thank You that You have told us, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27 ESV) Amen.

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About the author:

Kenn Stright <>
West Petpeswick, Nova Scotia, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    THANK YOU, Kenn!

    Thanks for the wise words, Kenn.

    Thanks, Kenn. I have several friends like this — good advice.

    There are so many that need reassurance. Thanks for the great advice and prayer, Kenn!

    Weekly prayer meetings are a good solution – begin by sharing blessings and then share prayers for problems.

    I enjoyed your devotion very much. A great reminder to savor each day in the Lord.

    Kenn – thank you for this great devotional. I wasn’t familiar with that passage from Deuteronomy, nor was I familiar with the theory behind that sort of anxiety. Very helpful!

    Loved your devotion! Through your sailing you have painted a picture of looking up. There is nothing better to do than to look to Jesus our redeemer. Enjoyed to reading the lingo of sailing. Thanks for sharing.

    Thanks Kenn, insecurity, helplessness and isolation are a part of so many lives, we all should help as best we can the people so affected, do continue your support of this individual. Blessings to you and your family.

    Wow! What a great way to explain/understand the people who cannot see the Way forward in a positive light. It also makes ‘forgiveness’ a natural follow through, knowing that there is something that WE can do to help them. Thank you for this.

    Thanks Kenn for writing again, and today about awfulizing. On perspective, my dad described it as the difference between Good Morning Lord! And good lord it’s morning. Stay well,

    I can’t imagine living life as your acquaintance does. Although our daily news is usually very bad, there is much good in the world when we look for it. We don’t have to search very hard to find it.
    I always enjoy your writings. Keep up the good work.

    Many thanks Kenn for this very mindful and reassuring devotional you have submitted. Over many years I have shared the scripture Phil.4:13 with people and declared it my “mantra”. That scripture, along with John 14:27 which you have mentioned are very meaningful and give us very positive reassurance of the Lord’s care in our lives. Blessings for your very thoughtful writings.

    I cannot imagine waking up with the conviction that something awful will happen every day. I have often thought that coping in life must be difficult for those who have no faith in Jesus Christ as our saviour. The situation you describe, however, sounds like it is genetic, and I just can’t imagine. Thank you for trying to help this lady.

    Good morning Kenn,
    Well a new word for my vocabulary. I would never have thought it truly was a word.
    It is special that you would research how you can help your acquaintance with this self-defeating anxiety. It was also interesting to learn three of the contributing factors.
    It truly is important to reach out to others around us because we never know when someone might just need to know someone cares and is thinking of them.

    Insecurity, Helplessness, and Isolation. All strategies the enemy of our souls uses to bring us down. When I have a “situation” arising, I imagine the worst that could happen and ask myself if I can cope with that. By God’s grace and strength, the answer is “yes”. It neutralizes all the negative. God is with me. His Spirit fills me, and I am redeemed and held in His hand. The Lord brought this question for me to ponder: What do you have now that you will not one day lose? Could be depressing, but my answer is: my relationship with God. It will only get better and better. If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, we can defeat the enemy in all his strategies. Hallelujah. Blessings on your day! Spread the good news!

    Hello Kenn: Thank you for such a powerful message, if only it could reach the doubters it would be ten times more powerful. I often wonder if others who are not believers ever see these messages on “The Daily”, but is it only the believers? I have a dear family member who could benefit this message. However when I try to talk to her about God, she shuts down and tells me she does not want me to talk to her about God, so the best I can do is pray for her. I have also had a family member tell me if I keep talking about God, (this prompted after I told someone who needed to hear it that I was praying for their situation)… that person did not take offense but this person who told me off did. My reply was I am sorry to disagree with you, but the Holy Bible I read tells me we are to spread the word. So I have distanced myself from the person who told me off, but I know I am going to have to forgive her, but that is hard, I am working on it.

    Hello Kenn,
    I appreciate your suggestions to try to help the non-believers, I have been trying hard to do that. My granddaughter is very ill, both physically and mentally. She is seeking help for these conditions, if only she would turn to God, I am sure things would improve for her. I like your idea of suggesting a journal, I should have thought of that as I journal all the time. I am sure she is going through all the elements that you speak of, and she has cut herself off from everyone. I love her dearly. I may hear from here once every 2 months. So sad.
    Thank you for your message today.

    Good morning Kenn,
    Thank you for sharing your story “Awfulizing” in the PresbyCan Daily Devotional. I also know someone who fits this very description. You have made some good points and suggestions and I’m going to see if I can get the parents of this girl to approach things by way of a journal. I, myself, felt like this when I was younger, but since I’ve become closer to God, things really changed for me. I believe that scripture and prayer make a big difference in our lives. I also find that making yourself write something positive in a journal, and holding onto that positive thought, will build on a deeper positive attitude. Maybe this is wishful thinking, as this girl is very deeply disturbed, but it can’t hurt approaching the situation from a different perspective.
    Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and ideas.

    Very well put. We do need to pray and try to help people in these situations.

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