Thursday thoughts: Don't dwell on the 'whats ifs'


What if? How many times have you lived in the “what if” world? I find myself there quite often. "What if" is a question that we ask ourselves where we imagine what “might” happen or what “might have” happened.

Let me just tell you that living in the world of "what ifs" is a dangerous place to be. I might know this from experience. I’m just saying that I find myself in both places at times – questioning what might happen and what might have happened. I think I live in the “what if world” concerning both scenarios when I am leaning on my own understanding versus leaning and trusting on God.

Let me start with the what “might” happen on the "what if" spectrum. When I live in this scenario I usually live in fear and worry. I can imagine all sorts of situations that “might” happen – car trouble on the expressway, illness, financial problems, something happening to someone I love, and my list could go on and on.

Could any of these things happen at any time? Of course they could. Do I have any control over any of them? Of course I don’t. One of the best verses I use when I realize that I am living in the what might happen world is Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths.” I also can use Psalms 56:3: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in YOU.” These are my go-to verses when I start living in the what might happen world.

The truth is no matter how much I worry and fret over what might happen – my actions would not change any of it. I have to believe and trust that, no matter what, God is in control and will take care of me. I can’t just believe IN God I have to BELIEVE GOD. There is a difference.

Living in the what might happen world is just wasting my time and my energy. Plus, I’m sure that I miss opportunities God may have for me in my life because I am focused on me and not Him. The reality is time is short and our days are numbered. Don’t miss out on what God has for you because you are living in the “what might happen” world.

The other scenario I can live in is the what “might have” happened world. I find that when I am in this mindset it causes me to second guess and doubt everything. What might have happened if I had not said that? What might have happened if I had not stood up for what I believed? What might have happened if I had not set any boundaries? What might have happened if this had not...? And you can fill in the blank.

It is second-guessing and doubting. Satan is really good at getting me to do that. I am not a confrontational person at all and honestly most of the time it takes a lot for me to even say anything. However, when I know that what I said was in love, when I stood up for what I believed, the boundaries I set were healthy and above all I prayed and had a peace about my decision and God’s direction, then I must be confident to trust the outcome to God.

I have to tell myself that the unsettling feeling of what “might” have happened is not productive or healthy. Do I make wrong decisions sometimes and regret them as I think about what “might have” happened? Of course I do. I can apologize and admit my mistakes, but I can’t change the past. The praise in this is even when I mess up I serve a forgiving God who loves me even in my failures. I must remember Isaiah 26:3: “He will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in Him.” The peace of God is the only peace that will silence the doubting voices in my mind. God can keep my mind at peace when I know I have done what He asked of me, and my trust is in Him. I have to make a conscious effort to focus on what I know is true versus focusing on the unknown.

When we are not walking with the Lord it is easy to doubt our decisions and our direction, but we must trust what He has told us and promised us when we are walking with Him in the light. Peace with the world is not my goal to achieve - peace with my Savior is!

I heard a song on the radio earlier this week. The chorus really struck me. Here is what it says.”What if today’s the only day I got? I don’t wanna waste it if it’s my last shot. No regrets, in the end. I wanna know I got no what ifs.” There is truth in those words. Don’t live in the "what ifs."

Don’t waste a minute. Don’t live with regrets. Don’t doubt the direction of God. Have peace with your Savior. Speak truth in love. Trust God to handle all your what ifs one step at a time! Why don’t we step out of the "what if" world and just daily walk with God trusting the outcome to Him?

Remind yourself that living in the "what if" world prevents you from living in complete joy in the present. The truth is we are not promised a trouble-free life. There are many of our “what ifs” that could happen. What if I get sick? What if I lose my spouse? What if my children are hurting? What if the worst happens? It is so very hard to relinquish those "what if" thoughts concerning our spouse, our children, our grandchildren, and even ourselves knowing they can affect our future hopes and dreams.

The "what ifs" can cause us fear, anxiety, and stress. God doesn’t say there won’t be any hard situations. He does say He will never leave us. There are no guarantees that some of my "what ifs" won’t happen in this life. However, I have the assurance that “even if” they do happen, God will be right there beside me. Even if the worst happens, God’s grace is and will always be sufficient.

We should focus on trading the anxiety and worry of “what if” for the peace and assurance of “even if” knowing God will be there. He will walk right beside us and will never leave us. Our situations might not always be good, but God is always good. Why don't we strive to turn our "what ifs" to “even ifs" surrendering our inabilities to the ability of God because HE is the one who is able?


Jill Johnson, a staff member at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, finds spiritual applications in her everyday experiences as a wife, mother, grandmother and Georgian. She is available to speak to your church's women's gatherings. Reach her at