What if? What if the gas prices keep rising? What if the stock market crashes? What is the Russian invasion into Ukraine triggers world-wide food and gas shortages? What if… Have you ever noticed that when these two little words are used to start a sentence, the description is almost always a negative picture that is being painted in the imagined future.
As a child’s our favorite question used to be “why?” but as we grow up our favorite question often becomes, “what if”? It is with this question that we try to imagine the worse case scenario and then weigh our options or our resources against this worst case scenario picture. Unlike our innocent question, “why?” which is (usually) motivated by a genuine curiosity about the world around us, “what if’s” rhetorical questions are motivated by a desire for control over an unseen future.
One of the ways God shows His love for us is by giving us a boundary line in time that only allows us to live in this present moment without looking into the future. Like the boundaries we give our own children, this boundary line of living in the present is meant to protect us and shield us from the weight of tomorrow. He invites us to come to Him as little children wholly dependent on Him for all that we need. But as adults, we often chafe at this boundary line when things are not working out as we expected.
Lauren Daigle’s famous song, “Look up, Child” begins with words that are familiar to almost every heart at one time or another, ‘Where are you now When darkness seems to win? Where are you now When the world is crumbling?” This is exactly what a lot of people are saying this week as we watch the shocking news reports that keep rolling in. When we get frightened, our first thought is how to secure safety for ourselves or help others find safety. We often try to guess at what the future will bring in order to work things out in our own understanding. We are so dependent on our understanding that we are not willing to come under the shelter God offers us because we think we can find a better solution on our own.
Jesus wept over Jerusalem saying, “O Jerusalem….How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”
God offers us the shelter of His presence and His peace in the midst of the storm over and over, but we have to be willing to come to Him. Willing to forsake our own way of handling the situation. Willing to tear our eyes from the screen of frightening news reports and look up to see Him still ruling as King over all the nations.
Psychologists will tell you that what you focus on for long periods of time will begin to shape your thoughts, reactions, attitudes and emotions. So, we have a choice about where we will train our mental and emotional attention. We can look around at the growing chaos in the world and formulate an endless chain of “What if” questions – each more terrifying than the last.
Or we can choose to “look up, child” as Lauren Daigle’s song encourages us to do. To look up to God as a child who wholeheartedly trusts their future into their Father’s hands. Corrie ten Boom, who spent time in a Nazi concentration camps and had plenty of reason to wonder “what if…” once said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” She did not believe that “what ifs” were a part of God’s plan for her life.
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”~Corrie ten Boom
Another favorite saying by Corrie ten Boom was, “Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” Focusing on the “what ifs” of the future steals our joy and strength for today. But if we turn our attention toward the One who knows the way ahead of us, we will not only find the way forward, but will also discover the peace of knowing His presence in the midst of the storm. So, look up, child. He’s waiting for you to draw near.
“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.~Corrie ten Boom
I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)