By LESLIE LUDY
Many of us have been plagued by fretful “what if” scenarios throughout our lives. What if I never get married? What if my friends reject me? What if I fail at work or school? What if I have financially difficulties? What if I face persecution? And the list goes on and on.
As we trust in God’s protection, we can rest confidently in the fact that the enemy cannot “have his way” with us. (See Luke 10:19 and James 4:7.) Yet this doesn’t mean that God will never us to face difficulties, or that we as Christian women won’t walk through “trials of many kinds.” (See James 1:2 and Luke 2:35.)
So how can we keep those “what ifs” from ruling our thoughts and emotions, turning us into fretting, paranoid, worry-warts? How do we know we’ll be able to handle difficult circumstances if and when they come?
In her book The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom shares a story from her childhood when she told her father about her fear of facing hardship and suffering.
“Corrie,” he began gently. “When you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?”
“Why, just before we get on the train,” she replied.
“Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of him, Corrie. [When the time comes for you to suffer], you will look into your heart and find the strength you need – just in time.”
Fretting and worrying about “what ifs” shows a lack of trust in our God. We envision all the possible trials we might face, but fail to look at them through a heavenly lens and remember the grace, strength, and victory that God offers for every challenge we must walk through. We must remember that God gives us the grace we need for specific trials right when we need it, and not before.
Rather than worrying about what might happen in the future, we can rest securely in the knowledge that:
1.) God can turn anything the enemy means for evil into good in our lives. (See Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28.)
2.) He will not allow us to walk through trials we are not able to handle. (See 1 Corinthians 10:13.)
3.) Even when we walk through difficult circumstances, we can triumph through every challenge when we put our hope in Him. (See Psalm 25:3.)
Worrying about “what ifs” is not only dangerous to our spiritual lives, but it also distracts us from “being all there” for the calling God has placed upon our life today. Elisabeth Elliot wrote,
“Worry is refusing the given. Today’s care, not tomorrow’s, is the responsibility given to us, apportioned in the wisdom of God. Often we neglect the thing assigned for the moment because we are preoccupied with something that is not our business just now. How easy it is to give only half our attention to someone who needs us – friend, husband, or little child – because the other half is focused on a future worry.”
Whenever you are tempted to dwell on fearful “what if” scenarios, take a moment to deliberately fill your mind with Truth. A great way to start applying this principle is by memorizing some of the Psalms. (Some of my favorites on this subject are Psalm 27, 34, 37, 46, 91, and 112.) Whenever you are faced with the temptation to fear, those words of Truth can become vital weapons with which you chase away foreboding, anxious thoughts. The more you consistently fill your mind with Truth, the scarcer the enemy’s lies will become.
Another great principle is to pray for someone whenever fearful thoughts attempt to enter your mind. Praying for someone else takes your focus off yourself and your own fears, and turns you outward instead of inward.
When we truly know our God and believe Him to be exactly as His Word says He is, we have no reason to let fearful thoughts overtake our minds, because we know that in every situation, no matter how difficult, He will show Himself faithful.