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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Scare Master”

If you pay attention to my reviews, you will know that I didn’t think much of this episode’s ending moral. Nevertheless, there was a “secondary” message presented at the beginning of the episode that I thought was likewise important, even if the writers didn’t necessarily intend it. Fluttershy has been terrified of Nightmare Night for years, obviously; not caring for any of the traditional “fun scares” that go along with it. And while at the end of the episode she came to the conclusion that she didn’t like scaring others, even for fun, the important thing is that she reached the conclusion based on a matter of preference and not simply because she was scared of…well, being scared on Nightmare Night.

When I thought on this episode and this week for myself, it got me to thinking about my own faith life and the role of fear inside it. Sad to say, I am one of those individuals for which fear plays a much larger factor than it should.

By nature I am a pessimist, and that makes things difficult for me in multiple ways in multiple situations. Pessimism only has one advantage that I half-jokingly refer to: things can only ever get better. 😛 But in reality it’s not a good trade-off. By always fearing the worst out of every situation, and going to the point of expecting it, I eventually get to the point of not wanting to bother with anything.

Why see that movie? It’s just going to be corny and cliche and probably something I won’t like. Why try that activity? I’ll just get sore, not be any good at it, and wish I had done something else later. Why try to make friends with that person? I’ll just be awkward and fail to hit it off with them. These are just some of the questions and “answers” I give myself as a pessimist.

Yet the ones for my Christian life are far worse. Why write a devotional this week? No one reads it and for those who do there’s nothing of value in it anyway. Why bother greeting that person at Church? It’ll just show off how awkward and less open and genuine I am. Why try that ministry? I never get along with anyone and I won’t be as good as everyone else. Why talk to that person about Jesus? I’ll just end up being preachy and not connecting with them, and I’ll end up embarrassing myself and driving them farther away.

Why do I even try to be better? I’ll just relapse and sin again and be back to where I started, and just as miserable.

I’m guessing you don’t have to read much of those comments to realize that it doesn’t take long for this line of thinking, day in and day out, to make one not only be stuck never doing anything and live a rather empty life, but also feel depressed and hopeless. The default response to everything is dread and fear. Similar to Fluttershy in the early part of this episode, rather than try hard enough to enjoy herself on Nightmare Night, she just kept focusing on the worst outcome. It was small wonder that she soon wasn’t having any fun (and neither were her friends).Conversely, for the Christian, it isn’t long before they’re own faith fades to practically nothing. As Proverbs 17:22 warns: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

This problem has been plaguing me for a while, and I’m sure there’s at least a few of you out there who have a similar problem of pessimism, constant dread and fear, and always seeing the glass as half-empty. Once it becomes a learned thought process, it’s not something that can easily be undone (as I myself am discovering).

However, I can think of no better season than the Christmas Season to try and look at the good things in the world, as well as to have the most opportunities to do some good in the world. To that end, I have resolved to start performing, just for this season, the following thought experiment:

“How would I act if I never had anything to dread or fear?”

How would I act if everything could only lead to success or, at minimum, an enjoyable experience? If nothing could get me down? If everything would have a positive impact on myself and everyone around me? If everything I tried would only lead to something good?

It may not be fully realistic, and if you’re a life-long pessimist like me it’s definitely something you have to train yourself to do, but in terms of the payoff for a few disappointments on the side, I’m anticipating a far better outlook on life, a far more energetic and hopeful demeanor toward new things, and hopefully a better Christmas season both for me and the people I touch.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for your Word through the prophet Jeremiah: ””For I know the plans I have for you,”’ declares the Lord, ”’plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”” (Jeremiah 29:11) This Christmas season, help me to learn to cling to this Word when I am called to serve you or when you send an opportunity my way. Remind me of the blessed hope you have assured me and the future you have promised so I will more joyfully and readily step out in your Name. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”