“WHAT IF . . . ?” Have you ever asked yourself that question?
“What if my spouse was not a pastor, but had a normal 8:00-to-5:00 job?”
“What if my behind-the-scenes ministry is not as accepted as my predecessor’s bold, upfront leadership style?”
“What if my children are singled out and left out because of their father’s calling?”
Or “What if they do not grow up to love and serve the Lord?”
“What if the doctor’s report comes back positive?”
“What if I can’t do this anymore or don’t want to?”
No matter what “what if” questions we have pondered, worrying about them upsets our lives and distracts us from the calling God has placed on us.
Ellen White wrote, “The Lord is not pleased to have us fret and worry ourselves out of the arms of Jesus. He is the only source of every grace, the fulfillment of every
promise, the realization of every blessing.”1 We live in a world with real rather than imagined problems. So how can we keep those “what ifs” from controlling our thoughts and emotions?
My sister-in-law serves alongside her husband in the mission field of Indonesia. She and her family face a long list of very real inconveniences and some very real
danger: blistering tropical weather; the threat of malaria; shopping in a dirty, crowded market with far less than my neighborhood Kroger; her husband traveling about in poor areas where there are angry tribal people and planes that crash; her teens living on the edge on motorbikes and with crazy adventures, such as overnight surfing in crocodile-infested ocean water.
She has had many “what if” moments. But she has learned that faith in God is sufficient to help her face the real dangers—and more than sufficient for the ones that we live in dread of, as they may never materialize. Even though she knows and claims Bible promises and has grappled with the fact that sometimes God allows suffering—even death—she daily has to lay the “what ifs” down and move forward in trust. Her God, like my God and yours, is able to take care of us and those whom we love, and He asks us—even commands us—not to worry (Matthew 6).
Friends have shared these ways of dealing with “what ifs”:
• Lean in closer to God by reading and memorizing His Word. Try Psalm 27:14; 34:17, 18; 37:4, 5, 7; 46:1; 91; Jeremiah 29:11. Let precious promises become our greatest weapons to chase away fear and worry.
• Take time away to rest and reconnect with Jesus at times of stress and pressure.
• Let the intercessory prayers of trusted family and friends help carry us through times when our own heart may be too numb to pray.
• Reach out to others, focusing on someone else’s needs and desires. This helps to turn our thoughts outward rather than inward.
What are your biggest “what if” questions? As you wrestle with them, I pray that in the end you’ll find a Jesus who loves you with a love that passes all understanding or knowledge (Ephesians 3:19) and a Heavenly Father who in His great glory will give you the power to be strong (Ephesians 3:16).
1 Ellen G. White, Manuscript 75, 1893.