I first published this devotion in 2018. (Some minor edits have been made). As the chaos of life seems to be growing greater by the day, I thought this would be a good time to drag it out and dust it off. To remind myself that now, as then, God is in control even when the world is out of control. I hope these reminders will bless your day.
Life is really busy for me right now. It is not so much my own activities, although that is part of it. What I am really struggling with is more emotional busyness because of everything that is going on around me. Changes – lots of changes. Some are exciting, happy changes, but some are not. It is the not-so-happy changes I am dealing with this morning. As I thought about my own trials, it occurred to me that, life being what it is, you are probably going through some tough times too, and that maybe we could talk about it.
Recently some things have come along that have the potential to change my life in profound ways. I’m talking life changes that are causing my heart to be heavy. Situations that are unsettling and downright scary. I am talking about circumstances that cause my mind to go immediately to what if…?
There is no need to give you the details, that’s not really important right now – you have your own “what if…” details to deal with. What is important, is how you and I are going to get through these not-so-happy life events without completely losing it!
If you’re interested, I would like to talk to you about how we can change our “what if….?” to “Whatever!” Just so you know, what I am sharing is not from some clinical perspective; it comes from my own right now experience. Ready?
First pray. We have a promise in James 4:8 that says if we will draw near to God, He will draw near to us. Now, this is where I would normally tell you to give it to the Lord, to lay it down and leave it. That’s good counsel. Of course, when you’re stuck in the “what if…?” desert, it is not easy counsel to take. Our hearts just don’t always work that way do they? However, prayer is mandatory. So, even when we don’t feel like praying, we pray anyway. If we will just keep with it, peace will come.
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Practice. We’ve determined that we have to pray even when we don’t feel like it, right? Now we have to practice our faith, even when we don’t see it. In fact, the very definition of faith is believing what we can’t see (Hebrews 11:1).
How do we do that when we are in the “what if…?” For one thing, we replace our anxious thoughts with confident thoughts. No, “positive thinking” is not going to change the situation. Guess what? Negative thinking won’t either, but we don’t have a problem doing that do we? Besides, it’s not positive thinking I’m talking about here, it is “Whatever!” thinking.
whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
Pause. We need to take time to rest in Jesus, let Him comfort us. We listen to Him as He speaks to our hearts and our minds and our souls. He will you know. Through His written word, through creation, through the Holy Spirit (the Comforter). Jesus loves us. He knows our love language and He will speak to us in ways we can’t even imagine. What are the things that give joy to your soul? A Psalm, a child’s laughter, the quiet moments of dawn, a sunrise? Pause and listen for Jesus.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)
PRAISE! We will have cause to rejoice. When we get rid of the “what if…?” and begin to trust God with the “Whatever!” something wonderful happens. We are filled with peace and even joy. Our hearts and minds become free and we suddenly notice that all that weight we’ve been lugging around is just gone! I can’t explain it, I just know that it happens.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. (Psalm 94:19)
Is everything hunky-dory with me. No, it is not. My mind slips, my thoughts wander back to “what if…?” (Even at this moment, my anxious thoughts are trying their best to sneak back in.) Jesus and I are still working on it. More importantly, Jesus is working FOR me. When those “what if…?” thoughts come, Jesus draws me back. His Spirit speaks to me. He reminds me, ever so tenderly, to pray, to practice, and to pause.
I praise God because in His word He has promised me that I can let go of the “what ifs…?” and trust Him with whatever.