I watched a Beth Moore message on Life Today 6 years ago that wrecked me. Here is the link to it if you want to watch it. It is definitely worth your time but in case you don’t want to, here is the premise…
Beth was dealing with two major fears. She felt the Holy Spirit say, “Ok, IF those things were to happen, THEN what?” He wanted her to feel them, grieve them, and realize what was true on the other side of her fears.
She imagined what she would feel if her husband had an affair and what would happen if she lost a family member. She processed all of her feelings. She thought through putting flowers on her loved ones’ caskets and imagined the deep pain of losing them. The Lord kept nudging her and would ask her, “Then what?” (The following is just what I remember from her conversation with God. It’s not an exact quote.)
“Well, I would cry. A lot. I’d be devastated.”
“I would probably scream.”
“Ok, then what?”
“I would wake up the next morning.”
“I would bury my face in the scriptures and cry out to You for months.”
“At some point, I would pick myself up off the floor, realize that you’re still good, and ask you to use this for your glory.”
Again, watch the video when you have time. I dare you not to cry. 🙂
There have been times in our family where these kinds of “what if” fears robbed whole seasons from us. My husband spent over a year terrified of a “what if” that the enemy whispered to him. When my first born came into the world, I had an irrational fear of her dying and held onto her for dear life.
Unfortunately, we all deal with fear. These kinds of “what if” fears can be debilitating. They influence our decisions, keep us from letting people in, and even keep us from trusting God. I believe that it is our responsibility to decide what we are going to do with our fear. Are we going to let it run our lives? Or are we going to acknowledge it, find out what God has to say about it, and let it go?
What do we do with our “what If” fears?
1. Take our thoughts captive. The Bible says to be violent about keeping peace in our minds. There is an element of stewardship that goes into our thought lives. Yucky thoughts will come into our mind – the enemy is really good at sticking them in there. We are responsible to have a plan for when they show up. I ask myself, “Does this sound like God? Does this feel like love?” If the answer is “No” then I dismiss it and try my best to throw it away like the trash that it is.
“We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One,” (2 Corinthians 10:5b TPT).
“Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you. Be well balanced and always alert, because your enemy, the devil, roams around incessantly, like a roaring lion looking for its prey to devour. Take a decisive stand against him and resist his every attack with strong, vigorous faith,” (1 Peter 5:7-9a).
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things,” (Philippians 4:8 ESV).
2. Take the fears that aren’t as easy to dismiss to Jesus. Some thoughts are easily to throw away – others dig in a little deeper. Those harder ones need to be laid at Jesus’ feet. You may have watched a family member die of cancer and now are worried about your own life. Take that (and all fears like it) to Jesus. It is a rational thought, but it will rob you of enjoying life. Jesus is exceptionally kind and merciful and He wants to carry those burdens for us. He is not going to shame you. All of the following scriptures are Psalms written by David while he had very real threats against his life. Saul was hunting him to kill him and yet, David found comfort by going to the Lord in his trouble:
“Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall,” (Psalm 55:22 NLT).
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me,” (Psalm 23:4 NIV).
“If God hadn’t been there for me, I never would have made it. The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,” your love, God, took hold and held me fast. When I was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down and cheered me up,” (Psalm 94:17-19 MSG).
“But in the day that I’m afraid, I lay all my fears before you and trust in you with all my heart,” (Psalm 56:3 TPT).
3. Walk them out. Walk it out means to do what Beth did with her fear. Walk all the way through the pain of what you’re fearing. Go there in your mind. See it. Feel it. Process all of the emotions. What steps will you take? Answer all of the “then what” questions. The reason that I said to take your fear to Jesus before trying this step is because you have to have His covering for this to be a safe thing. This is a brave, hard thing to do. If you don’t feel like you can handle it, process your feelings a little more and maybe journal or talk to a friend. This is such a helpful practice. Take one fear at a time. I have made a worksheet for you to follow, linked below.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you,” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
“All praises belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he is the Father of tender mercy and the God of endless comfort. He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us,” (2 Corinthians1:3-4 TPT).
“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love,” (1 John 4:18 MSG).
At the end of the video, Beth talks about her mother-in-law. She lost a baby who was 3 years old. Beth asked her how she moved on and lived after losing her child. Her mother-in-law said, “I didn’t mean to.” Isn’t that beautiful? She just kept on waking up and took it one day at a time. 50 years after losing her son, she still cries on the anniversary of his death, she still misses him, but she is living a full, good life. God has picked her up off the floor and it using it for His glory.
Here is my point: we can’t spend all of our emotional energy fearing stuff that hasn’t happened. At the end of all of our “what if” questions, God is still good. He is still trust worthy. He has so much life for us to live. The enemy wants us focused on all of the possible ways he could steal from us and I think he wins when we do. In this instance, he doesn’t even have to actually take anything from us, we just hand him our potential. The family of ours that he might destroy, we now aren’t enjoying because of the “what if’s.” Don’t let him rob you of one thing.
What if we changed our “what if’s?” What if instead of focusing on all the bad things, we thought about all the possible great things that could happen? What if your marriage lasts and you enjoy 60 years of marital bliss? What if your children serve God all the days of their lives and walk in blessing because of it? What if you don’t get sick and you get to enjoy health? What if you don’t stay in financial trouble, but become debt-free and get to enjoy life?
In C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, Lucy is asked if Aslan (who represents Jesus) is a tame lion. She replies, “No, but he is good.” We can surrender our fear and take God at His word, because He is faithful and He is good. And what if – What. If. – He wants to be good to YOU?