"What Ifs" filled the answers to the survey we had folks fill out in preparation for our Parenting Series. What if I I mess up? What if I haven't done all that I needed to do? Worries about teaching and training - worries about school and home work and college and careers and friends and boy fiends and safety and on and on and on! Our "What Ifs" can often turn into debilitating and paralyzing worry... and worry is the opposite of faith. Faith is complete confidence and trust in God - in his person, in his work, in his ability and willingness to work all things together for our good. Faith in God with prayer to God lead to the peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
Worry is the anxiety and stress that we give way to when we dwell on actual or potential difficulties and troubles. Worry's root is our lack of confidence and trust... our lack of faith in God's ability and willingness to act.
"What Ifs" aren't limited to parenting. Life is filled with "What Ifs." What if I fail this class? What if I don't find Mr. Right? What if I can't find the job I want or the career I want? What if I lose my job? wreck my car? lose this account...? The "What Ifs" are unending. So how do we fight them? How do we keep them from overwhelming us, controlling us, ruining us?
The way to fight fear and worry is FAITH. Not random faith, not unfounded faith, not faith in yourself (if you could fix it, you would't really be worried), not faith in karma - faith in the promises of God - faith ultimately in the person and work of Jesus - faith in the gospel.
This past Sunday we talked about one way of fighting worry and renewing our faith - to honestly ask and answer some simple, probing questions:
- In this moment of worry, what am I believing about myself? That is, what am I practically believing about me? My actions and my worry demonstrate that I am believing that - I am in control, I can fix this, I can work it out, I've got it, I know what to do...
- In my worry, What am I practically believing about God? If in practice I believe that I am in control, then I do not believe that God is in control. I do not believe that God is able. I do not believe that God can handle my needs or my situation. I do not believe that he knows how. often I may believe that God is able, but that he is unwilling. Perhaps I even believe that while God loves others enough to help them, he doesn't love me that way. Clearly the answers here are not "Sunday School" answers. We are digging beneath the surface of what we SAY that we believe about God to find the place of our true faith - our real trust and confidence.
At this point, I am usually unwinding! Forcing myself to truthfully answer these questions on a heart level exposes the cause of my anxiety. My faith is misplaced! I know at this point that what I am practically believing is broken - THAT is NOT what I really believe! So I continue...
- What then do you REALLY believe about yourself... about God? I believe that I am broken! I believe that I need help. I believe that I do NOT have this or have it under control. I believe that I failed to figure it out and really cannot figure it out, cannot solve it, cannot adequately fix it... But God He is great! There is nothing that he cannot do. He does what he pleases. There is nothing that can hinder his plans. There is nothing that can interfere with his wishes. He good. He is perfect it goodness! He is perfectly pure, perfectly holy, perfectly righteous - He is the definition of good. And this amazing, powerful, all knowing, unstoppable God loves me and is for me... he loves my children and he is for them. there is no "What If" that is beyond his control and because he is good and true - I can trust Him! I know this because I see it in His Word over and over again. I know it because I see it my own life over and over again. I know it because I see it the lives of the people all around me... but more I know that it is true because of Jesus. In the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus I see the power and promise of God. I also see his amazing love and care. I see that all of the "What Ifs" that could possibly be are no match for his love and grace and kindness and mercy toward me. The good news of Jesus tells me that He's got this... whatever this might be. Which leads me to humbly answer my last question...
- What then do you need to do? Repent and Believe. Repent of the sin of trusting myself, repent of the brokenness of playing god and believe with full confidence that he is God and in love he has worked and is working all things together for my good.
The gospel trumps all of my "what ifs."
If you want to catch the sermon from Sunday, you will be able to find it HERE in the next few days.