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What does a "sense of impending doom" mean to you? It's something I've experienced several times, and it's not always the same. Yet, it is a very distinct sensation. Sometimes it tells us something important, and sometimes we create it in our minds. Most of the time, it is a bit of both. So how do we know when to listen to that anxiety and when we should work through it? Well, first, it's quite literally vital to evaluate the intensity of what we experience. If you have a "bad feeling" that is overwhelming or persistent, it could be a symptom of anxiety or a physical ailment. Don't brush off professional counsel because you think it's "just a feeling." There are many ways our bodies try to warn us that they need care.
The Bible tells us, "Do not be afraid." Like many things God teaches us, that is not a black and white statement. There are different kinds of fear. The fear that we associate with insecurity comes from a lack of trust, which the Bible tells us to overcome. In faith, we can know that even if the worst happens, we will have all we need, which is God's love. We can also trust that God will guide us, so we don't need to worry over every step. That is where good fear comes in. God gives us every emotion for a reason, and like anger, fear serves a purpose when we don't let it control us. For example, on a late-night in downtown Phoenix, I got off at the wrong bus stop several blocks from my car. After briskly walking for a few minutes, I felt that vulnerable sense that someone was watching me. There's a high chance I was in no danger, but that "creeped out" instinct prompted me to talk on the phone for the rest of my walk, which was a smart precaution.
For comparison, if I listened to the stifling type of fear, I would never ride a bus again. Instead of practicing awareness, I would never travel alone. We all have different situations we are comfortable with based on our experiences, but we shouldn't disregard fear just because we are familiar with certain habits. We are supposed to seek wisdom, and sometimes the wise thing to do is recognize how we can avoid unnecessary harm.
There's another type of "impending doom" that has a broad scope. I recently experienced it in a dream, when for unidentified reasons, I was sure the world was going to end. After I woke up, the feeling lingered with me. Do I think it was some sort of premonition? No. There are many ways that our stress and fatigue can impact our minds. When we pay attention to our spiritual, emotional, and physical wellbeing, we can acknowledge when there's an existing force behind our anxiety. We can also know that even if our world ends, literally or metaphorically, God's promise holds our future.
It's pretty common to have the general sensation that something negative will occur before it does. I've experienced this many times, and I've also been wrong many times. We have access to more insight than we realize, but it surprises us when we think our "predictions" are unexpected. God created us with an intricate design, and He has an intention for every piece. When we seek His presence, we will better understand our intuitions and apply them to our lives.
The knowledge that our problems are bigger than our power often brings us to despair. We know there are things we have no control over, so we live in fear of those things even if they aren't imminent. We can use discretion to enact caution, but we won't always know when our fear is valid. No matter what we feel, we need to place our future in the hands of God. That doesn't mean our choices don't impact what happens; it simply means that He has a plan for all of it. There is no doom that can separate us from God's love when we choose to follow Jesus.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.