Have you ever experienced preemptive sorrow?
I’m talking about that phenomenon that occurs when our emotions get ahead of our reality. Preemptive sorrow engages when we think something painful is coming, but has not happened yet. In a state of preemptive sorrow, our emotions begin to shift before the sad, painful, or heart-wrenching event takes place. We rationalize feeling the way we do about PES by assuring ourselves that the “bad” is coming, it will devastate us, and we need to prepare now for that which will surely overtake us.
Not all people suffer from bouts of preemptive sorrow. Some experience their sadness at the appropriate time. Worriers, however, always want to be ahead of the curve…be ready…make sure they are prepared for the next shoe to drop.
One of my favorite lines from the famous novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, comes from the mouth of Atticus Finch, who counsels his children, “It ain’t time to worry yet. I’ll let you know when.” Oh, that those who preemptively worry could latch onto the substance of Atticus Finch! Personally, I think someone in the throws of PES or preemptive anxiety had to have written that line. Who else could have so clearly capsulized what goes on in the head of someone acting before its time?
Jesus said the remedy for preemptive sorrow was focusing on God, and not our circumstances.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will direct your path. Proverbs 3:5-6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me… Psalm 23:4
…do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Luke 12:29-31
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
Do you tend to be a worrier? When have you found worry an inadequate method for calming your mind under stress?