What is, not what if.
That’s how we are supposed to live. But so frequently, so consistently, we find ourselves wondering “what if.” What if that rash or sore throat is something more serious? What if my loved one was in an accident? What if my house catches fire while we’re away? What if the storms brew tornadoes?
You get the picture… and I’m sure every one of you probably has some “what if’s” of your own that you could add. It’s so easy to see whatever trouble we’re facing, and see only that trouble. To see the possibilities of greater trouble from it. To see the pains of losing family or friends, or homes, or health. To see the suffering that could result.
But that’s not how we are to live! No, we have something greater – someONE greater. And He is where our eyes, our hearts and minds, should be fixed. Permanently.
So what if trouble comes? He’s promised that, if we are His children and walking with Him, then He will weave everything in our lives together into something good (Romans 8:28). Notice a few things about that promise. First, it’s active. He is always working things for good. He never stops, never takes a break, never sleeps on the job. Second, it’s everything. Every little thread of our lives is woven into something greater, a bigger picture, a larger tapestry. The seemingly good and the seemingly bad are woven together into something both good for us and good for His name. Third, it’s good. Everything is always being worked together for good. Our heavenly Father is a beneficent God. He wants to bless us, wants to give us good things even more than our earthly fathers do (and I don’t know about you, but my earthly Daddy quite often spoils me!).
He sees the greater picture, while we only see the now. He has the “helicopter” view while we have the “dashboard” view. He knows everything that has happened and will happen from eternity past through eternity future, every person and every event in every time period. He alone knows what is best for us! He alone knows what will praise His name.
We may look at our circumstances and see only bad. For instance, I could look at my diagnosis of a lifelong illness and think of only the problems, the difficulties. I could see the weight gain, the possibility of not having children, the lack of energy, the need for monthly blood tests, the unceasing caution about getting sick or being around sick people. I could see lost opportunities. But that would be looking through my eyes.
Looking through God’s eyes, I can see gained opportunities. Chances to write on topics I never would have understood otherwise. Ministries I never would have had. Time with my husband that would have been lost to full-time work. People I never would have met.
Or take another example: severe weather. It’s thunderstorm season right now, and in South Carolina that means a whole lot of tornado watches. It is easy to stay glued to the weather forecast, to see whether storms are predicted, and to immediately start worrying about the chance of tornadoes if they are. I’ll admit, I’m guilty of it. I look around and see the devastation they’ve produced in our country even just this year. Alabama. Missouri. Even Massachusetts, where they rarely get tornadoes. So much for trusting in statistics. So when a storm starts brewing and the wind picks up and the trees start swaying in circular motions, it’s so easy to start worrying about tornadoes. About losing my home or people I love. About being hurt. About accidents.
But then I look through God’s eyes. I remember that He has promised to never leave me. That if He chooses to put me in harm’s way, then it is only because it will prove good for me. Not what is good for my husband or my pastor or my neighbor, but me personally. And that if He chooses to bring me suffering, it is because I can glorify Him more through that suffering than without it. And He will be with me through all of it. He will give the grace, the strength, the courage to go on.
We’re so silly sometimes, so foolish, when we choose to worry. Yes, that’s right. It’s a choice. Maybe it’s a natural human choice, but it is a choice nonetheless. We can just as easily choose to trust God, to rest in His peace, to believe that He is working all things for our good and His glory.
And so I choose to not worry. I choose to focus on God, who is bigger than my circumstances. I choose to think on what is, not what if. To meditate on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). I choose, rather than allowing my mind to wander and wonder, to rejoice in everything. To give thanks to God for whatever my circumstances are. To bring every request before Him, for that is how I will find true peace. He may know all things, may have it all planned out from the beginning of time, but He tells us to make our requests known to Him – because then the peace that surpasses all human comprehension will fill our hearts and our minds (Philippians 4:6-7).
So what is ? God is. His goodness and love is. His constant presence is. His promise to work all things for good is. His Word is. His unchanging truth is. His faithfulness is. His sovereignty over everything at all times is.