Joshua 22

Today’s reading:  Joshua 22:10-44

Catastrophize – (v) to imagine the worst possible outcome of an action or event (Miriam Webster).

Are you guilty of catastrophizing?  If your team goes down by 10 points, do you find yourself saying, “the game is over”, even though it is still in the first half?  If you get one piece of negative feedback at work, are you convinced your career is over?  When you get a splitting headache, do you automatically think it is a brain tumor?  If you answer yes to any of these questions, you might be guilty.

Catastrophizing can lead to some negative consequences both for you and those around you.  For example, it can cause you to waste a lot of time (and money) dealing with “emergencies”.  It can also cause unnecessary anxiety or low self esteem, as you are prone to dwell on negativity.  Even worse, it can lead to troubles in close relationships as your friends/family are forced to endure many unnecessary crisis situations with you.

Our scripture for today is about the Israelites moving into the promised land.  If you remember from Joshua 21, the tribes of Rueben, Gad and half of the Manasseh tribe all received land on the East side of the Jordan River.  So, they settled in first, before the rest of the tribes got to their new homes.  In the beginning of Joshua chapter 22, Joshua charged these three tribes to never lose sight of their journey, to remember how (and who) got them to this point, and then sent them on to their new homes.

Be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul (Joshua 22:5).

In response to Joshua’s guidance, these three tribes went to their new homes and built an altar to honor God.  What do you think happened when the remaining tribes saw it?  You guessed it, they jumped to the wrong conclusion (e.g. catastrophized the situation).  They concluded these three tribes were trying starting their own religion and were rebelling against God.  They were ready to start a war.

Fortunately Phineas, a wise priest, led a of group of people to go confront the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh to figure out what was going on.  When they explained the altar was meant to honor God, not to make pagan sacrifices, everyone was good.  Gosh that seemed easy, all it took was a simple conversation.

How often in our lives do we jump to the wrong conclusion or catastrophize a situation?  Instead of confronting those involved, we make up stories, worry, and ultimately let the situation drive a wedge in our relationships.  I know confronting sticky situations takes a lot of courage, but a simple conversation can prevent a lot of heartache.  Let’s get to talking.