Living in a World of “Ifs”

Living In A World of IfsI watched the events unfold on live TV. I was in my pajamas eating a piece of pizza; they were being shot at inside a concert hall. The original shock of such an unthinkable act quickly gave way to panic—my mind and heart raced, and I imagined the worst possible scenarios.

“What if something like that happens here?” I texted Crockett.

“What if that happens to us? To you or me?”

The things I’d been worrying about earlier that day were suddenly trivial—what if I didn’t make an A on that History quiz? What if my acne scars don’t go away? What if I can’t find a better job? What if I’d overeaten at breakfast? But nevertheless, they were still worries, and I had spent the entire day with one or another always lingering on my mind. Dying in an act of terrorism was suddenly at the forefront.

Here’s my confession: I like to worry.

I don’t necessarily enjoy dwelling on negatives, but I’d much rather worry—in detail—about every possible thing that could go wrong than ask God to handle my worries for me.

Worrying gives me a slight sense of control; if I worry, I can mentally prepare for the worst.

“Can you imagine how those people must be feeling?” I texted, and imagine I did.

I worried about being trapped in a room with masked gunmen—I played the whole scene out in my mind—and worried about the pain I’d feel, my family’s tears, our country’s reaction, another war…and, of course, I even ended up dreaming about the exact things I had been worrying about.

Really, though, worrying about such a situation doesn’t prepare me for it. At all.

In fact, worry doesn’t do much of anything except give me a deep, defined ache in my neck and shoulders.

But I can’t seem to stop!

As you can imagine, Psalm 55:22 has always given me trouble:

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

I’d like to do that. I mean, worrying sucks the life out of me, and it doesn’t really give me any power or control.

But this anxious little voice in my head asks,

“What if God doesn’t keep the bad things from happening? What if you trust him but he lets you down? What if he doesn’t help you with those things you worry about? What if you ask for help but he doesn’t take the worries away? What if you keep worrying about worry forever?”

And I listen to the voice, the ifs, and they keep me from placing my trust in him.

If.

A word that implies the unknown possibilities, the worst outcomes, the things that we don’t want to happen. A word that equally stands for uncertainty and distrust. It drives us to worry and it keeps us from being sure of the hope and good future God has provided for us.

There are countless ifs in the world, and even in your life. Whatever struggles you’re facing, you’ve likely imagined the hundreds of different results that are possible. The longer the struggle, the more ifs you’ve asked; the more intense the struggle, the more terrifying the ifs. You don’t know what could happen—it could be the worst thing imaginable. Or it could be the best. You just don’t know. And if you’re like me, you just don’t want to trust God with such a scary, risky set of possibilities.

But God has a plan for each and every one of us, and he loves us all. And since he makes all things work for our good, we should be able to trust that he will take care of all our worries in his way and his time.

Surrender is never that easy, of course, and for this World’s Worst Worrier, it takes a conscious effort to allow myself the freedom of giving my worries to God. I hate to admit that he can take care of myself better than me, and that he’s in control of my life and I’m not. That’s the simple truth of the matter, though. Freedom from worry comes when we trade our uncertainties for his certainties—the promises of his word, and the knowledge of all the good he’s done in our lives so far.

Worry is the biggest challenge I face.

I’m still just about as possibly anxious a person can be, and I know I’m preaching to myself here—but we live in a broken world, and terrifying things like the terrorist attacks in Paris scare everyone.

The only hope I can offer is trusting God to take care of us, to provide, and to comfort us when bad things happen, because there are evil forces on this earth that we as individuals cannot control. Even under the threat of such evil, God is still our sword and shield, and he has the greater power. We can trust him with our fears and worries because we know he is always, always faithful.

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IMG_1563 Emilee Hackney is a recent high school graduate living in the
mountains in Tazewell, VA. She is attending a local college
this fall where she hopes to discover God’s plan for her career. She
loves her grandma’s house, her boyfriend of three and a half years,
and anything with an unhealthy amount of sugar.

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