Chicken Little

Chicken Little  noun

  1. A confirmed pessimist, particularly one who warns of impending disaster.

  2. One who warns of or predicts calamity especially without justification

 [After a character in a story who is hit on the head by an acorn and believes the sky is falling.]

(Webster’s Dictionary)

Pessimism, expecting bad things, anticipating the worst, is a blight for God’s people. When God brought Israel out of Egypt, despite all the spectacle of God’s power in Egypt and at the Red Sea, and the fulfillment of his promises, the people repeatedly fell into a fearful expectation of calamity and grumbling. They accused Moses and God of bringing them into the desert to starve and to die of thirst (Exodus 16:3, 17:3, Numbers 20:4). The Exodus generation of Israel was afflicted with pessimism, which not only made them unhappy, but often motivated anger, contentiousness, and bad behavior, and ultimately separated them from enjoying God’s promises.

Generations after Moses’s time, when the Jewish rulers looked at Jesus, his ministry, his preaching, the good works he did, the many miracles (even including reviving a man who had been dead and buried four days), they were pessimistic about the outcome. They swept aside the good, ignoring the clear evidence of God’s hand at work. They refused to believe Jesus was bringing the promises of God to fulfillment, and instead convinced each other “the sky is falling.” Because they feared the future with Jesus alive and working, they chose to murder an innocent man, to avoid calamity (they thought), thus fulfilling prophecy but defying God.

Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.  “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (John 11:47-48)

When the Jewish rulers anticipated the worst, that the Romans would come and destroy them, they chose to act on their pessimism by attacking Jesus. The unhappy irony is that while they did fulfill prophecy in rejecting the Christ, they also sealed the destiny of  “our place and our nation,” bringing upon themselves and their children the very destruction by the Romans that they feared (see Matthew 23:37-39).

What God has always wanted for his people is the optimism that comes, not from avoiding difficulties, but from trusting God in all circumstances. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances… I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Romans 8:31, Philippians 4:11-13). God has never assured his people that they/we would have carefree lives in this world, or that the world would not change around them/us. Rather he has promised his people that they/we can have confidence of his help to overcome every obstacle, including death itself.

Paul wrote that Christians are the children of Abraham and are blessed along with Abraham (Galatians 3:7-9).  Being descendants of Abraham, Christians can understand Isaiah 41:8-16 as promises fulfilled in the Lord’s church. God’s servant consists of people from all over the world, chosen by God, triumphant over every enemy, over all the nations. No matter what the momentary circumstance of those “who rage against you” or who it is that “wage war against you,” God’s promise persists. God’s people have no reason to ever be “Chicken Littles.”