I recently realized I have a very specific imagination. Sometimes that’s a plus. There are times that my specific imagination and thinking down the road serves me. It helps in planning events. It helps in coming up with new solutions. In guessing the plot line specifics to many movies I watch. (I try to keep my speculations to myself since that tends to annoy people.)
And there are times this imagination and “fore-thought” doesn’t help at all. There are times that my anxious thoughts can lead to “what if” scenarios that take me to more “what ifs” and more “and then such and such”. Those “what ifs” zero in on the problem at 440% zoom and the very notion of the possibility of a solution doesn’t even occur to me.
As I’ve been reading through some of the Israelites’ famous 40 year travels, I’m astounded by their lack of vision and lack of trust in the Lord. Lack of remembrance of all the Lord had done.
Talk about a log in my eye.
I’m not sure when or where the thought came, though it must have been from the Lord, because it’s way smarter than me. But I’ve been challenged to stop considering “what if this happens” and start thinking “But what if the Lord does such a thing?” “What if the Lord rescues us in this way?”
In a sense, the challenge is to become creative in hope about the Lord’s abilities BASED ON the things that I’ve seen Him do.
This reflects on the character of God: who He is, what He’s done. It challenges me to recall the times He’s done absolutely impossible things in impossible situations. This type of “what if” question makes me consider how absolutely powerful God is. When there was no way, God parted seas. When about to drown, God calmed storms. When hope of healing was long gone, men and women were made whole. Families broken--God healed. No food for the crowds--God provided basket upon basket of leftovers.
I have a hard time wrapping my brain around how to change my way of thinking, but I know it starts with remembering what my God has done for me already. And it challenges me to cast my eyes to heaven in waiting and wonder.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling." Psalm 46:1-3
This gives confidence to quell those "what ifs" that arise as giants against me. What if the earth gives way? I don't care. God is my very present help in trouble.
"And the Lord said to Moses, 'How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?" Numbers 14:11
If we cannot conquer the "what ifs", they will conquer us. They will ruin our potential, ruin our faith, I think.
"Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 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 4:4-7
I better stop before I ramble, because these Scriptures are everywhere. I turn my heart and eyes to the Lord. What if He does something so incredible that I can’t even conceive of it right now? What if the plot becomes so twisted that it makes the novel even more riveting to read? What if it’s so completely astounding that people see it and get saved? What if it encourages others? What if God uses this horrible thing to help me comfort someone else?
"Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me." Psalm 50:14-15
by Janine Alvarado, Missionary to Japan