What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

By: Katie Helmreich

The timer went off but no one noticed. I had put a tray of cookies in the oven and walked away to rally the kids for chores. I forgot all about them until I smelled them burning. 

I’m a self-proclaimed recovering perfectionist. These days, thank heavens, this sort of set back is usually no big deal. But on the wrong sort of day … burnt cookies feel like a sign of just how horribly unorganized and overworked I am, a portent of failure, dooming any goal or dream I have to certain death. How could I hope to accomplish anything if I can’t even make cookies without burning them?!

Oh, woe is me. 

Clearly ridiculous.

The weirdest things can derail us, especially when we’re overtired or emotionally drained. Forgotten events, dramatic spills, a sharp word from a friend or family member, half-finished projects, messy garages or desks, a funny look from a random stranger … In the wrong place at the wrong time, nearly anything can send us spinning. We talk ourselves out of new ventures and hold back from deepening relationships.

How can we pull out of these mental tailspins? By seeking out truth.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, not angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, not anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8:38-39

Nothing can change who you are in Christ. Nothing will separate you from the love of God. Truth.

(That’s odd: burnt cookies and missed Zoom meetings didn’t make Paul’s list …)

When we feel threatened (by burnt cookies…?), a surge of adrenaline flips the switch from rational thought to fight-or-flight action. This works great in real disasters, but most of the time we can’t solve the problem until we switch back to rationality.

Do you find yourself in these tailspins from time to time? Take a deep breath and ask: What’s the worst that can happen? 

Sometimes the answer is so obviously silly you’ll actually laugh: Worst case, the kids will need to drink more milk to choke down the completely nutritionally-optional cookie. It obviously has nothing to do with my value as a human or my level of functioning as an adult. (Turns out my son, Noah, says he likes them best when they’re kind of burnt. Weirdo.) 

What’s the worst that can happen? 

Someone will be offended, or break an arm. You’ll miss an opportunity. You won’t have the funds you need for x, y, or z. You’ll look like you don’t know what you’re doing … 

But how likely is that, really? Would it be the end of the world? Would it derail God’s good and perfect plan and purpose? No.

Seriously, what’s the ABSOLUTE worst that can happen? 

“When I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end … I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.” Psalm 73: 16-17, 23-24

The Psalms are thick with soul-satisfying words! Many begin crying out to the Lord in despair, and then as the psalmist recalls God’s truth, he is moved to peace, hope, and worship. (Psalms 81 and 84)

Some of the fears that send us spiraling are less laughable. The truth remains the same. If the worst were to happen, you are still God’s child. 

Nothing will make God love you less. Your Heavenly Father is faithful. 

Some days are more of a struggle than others. Whether we face insecurities, annoyances, or full on turmoil we find peace in God’s promises. Truth.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:11 

Jesus knows you perfectly and laid out what is before you today. Don’t listen to the whispers of fear and doubt. You are His. And He loves you.

Maybe you feel stuck waiting, struggling to be content. Maybe you’re right in the thick of things, wondering if God called the wrong person. Maybe you feel led to take a new direction and are trying to muster the nerve. He speaks encouragement to us at the end of 1 Thessalonians!

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 23-24

Jesus loves you.

He is faithful.

Truly, what’s the worst that could happen?

Anxiety swirls around us, but He guards our hearts! 1 Thessalonians 5 and the beginning of 2 Thessalonians reassure me in a big way.

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