A fundamental flaw of the modern worldview is the inability to contemplate the improbable; that is, catastrophe and miracle. Two reasons are at the heart of this paradigm. 1) We've built an elaborate technological superstructure to confine improbability to the extreme margins of our consciousness, and 2) we've turned away from eschatological consciousness. Those who encourage eschatologies or decry the secularization of improbability are pushed to the fringe, accused of heresy and logical impropriety.
It is not as if by contemplate we mean that earlier times could better apprehend improbability, could index it, quantify it, and ultimately steer clear of it. They most assuredly could not. That is the point. They did not have the penetration of discourse necessary to surgically remove improbability from the immediate reality of the present. They could not confidentially say (or feel) that the odds of being struck by lightning were 1-in-83,930, and so feel comfortable meandering about outdoors when Zeus was throwing a fit. The best they could muster were raggedy old maps with sea serpents painted on the margins--there there be dragons indeed.
The space for the improbable was larger and more imposing on our daily consciousness. We were thus more likely, in order to allay the negative improbable, to turn to the positive improbable, and thereby counteract those very real worries and concerns.
In today's world the positive improbable (or at least our consciousness thereof) has been vanquished by science, while the negative improbable carries on. The negative improbable--while reduced in frequency thanks to advances in disciplines such as modern medicine, storm tracking, and open communications--has increased in amplitude--with global epidemics, earth shattering over-heating, and nuclear war (not to mention the always looming prospect of one's own death).
So we resort to the two fallbacks the modern world still leaves to us, fear and therapy. We use fear to eliminate the consciousness of the negative improbable by grandstanding in the threat to destroy it. Though this destruction is an illusion with no future, we cling to it because we lack true consciousness of the positive improbable alone capable of conquering the forces of darkness. Therapy, on the other hand, enjoins us to resign ourselves to our fate, to be found in the empty abyss of the negative improbable. If too difficult, we can merely resign ourselves to a world of addiction to fill the void and dull the imminent anxiety--drugs, consumerism, psychotherapy, dieting, meditation practices. All these things take our minds off the necessity of the always approaching negative improbable and perhaps, as in meditation and psychotherapy, resign ourselves to that end.
Not one of the above approaches is ultimately productive, though we all fall into them from time to time. The only salvation lies in that positive improbable our forebears still had access to. The answer lies in hope, in faith, in patient expectation of that one thing, if thingness could ever be assigned it, capable of overcoming the negative improbable both in our consciousness and in reality. The positive improbable, the paraousia--inconcievable in the modern discourse of technicality and fact--alone stands capable of answering the power of death. Only the antithesis, the logical opposite of the collapsing reality which faces us, unbound by the determination of the system, but nonetheless completing it and destroying it, fulfilling it, ending it, and bringing it to a close; only here does salvation lie.