It happened the day the ladder collapsed from underneath my favorite farmer, inside a grain bin.
I didn’t even want to ask how far he fell when he came limping into the house that afternoon. We thanked God he wasn’t hurt worse. I handed him an ice pack from the freezer. And then I went to the other side of the house and began to make a pathetic trade: I exchanged my heart of praise for a yoke of worry.
I stared out the bedroom window, with my heart up in my throat. I sunk into the pit of “what if.”
What if he’d broken his legs? What if he gets hurt worse another day? What if my favorite farmer became one of the scary statistics? I stood at that window, and before long, I was in tears …. imagining with horror his funeral, the long walk down the center aisle of the church, envisioning pallbearers for a funeral that wasn’t even happening …. and wondering how I’d raise children without their father.
Worry is the noose of what-ifs, wrapped around the neck of peace.
It is an executioner, and it is a peace-killer.
Why is it so easy for us to live in the what-ifs, rather than the what’s real? Why do we dwell in the impossible what-ifs?
What if my child gets hurt?
What if this afternoon’s list of layoffs includes my name?
What if hoped-for love never comes?
What if the lump is cancerous?
What if I fail?
What if I can’t make it through tomorrow? And what if tomorrow never comes?
What if another ladder falls?
We race into tomorrow before tomorrow is here, and we stand at our windows, staring blankly through tears at the clouds, and we worry about falling ladders and falling skies. We neglect the gift of now. *I*
neglect the gift of now.
Worry is believing in worst-case scenarios. Randy Alcorn calls it “momentary atheism crying out for correction by trust in a good, sovereign God.”
So, then, what if we replaced our faithless what-ifs, with faith-filled what-is?
What if we worshipped more and worried less? Worry is the weapon of the enemy. And the weapon against worry is worship.
What if we actively fought back the IF, with praise for what IS?
What if we anticipated the best? And what if we saw each fear as an open invitation to pray instead of fret?
What if we remembered that worry is the work of the deceiver, and victory is the work of the cross?
Maybe we could refuse to let tomorrow’s worry be the thief of today’s joy. Maybe we could remember that so much of our worry is a fiction of events that will never, ever happen.
And yes, some of our worst worries do come to pass. You and I are not naive to the pain of tragedy. We’ve lived it. But what did Jesus say? “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
At the bedroom window, I have to do the hard work of reversing my worry, turning it into worship. I recall what the Israelites did: They set up stones. They remembered what God had already done, … and those stones can always remind us where God already IS.
Maybe I could remember that whatever lies ahead, God is already there? And He doesn’t wait for on on the other side of today, but He’s walking all the way there with me.
That’s far more accurate than a “what if.” That’s the truth of what is. And what shall be.
I turn away from the window of what-if and hypothetical wondering, and it’s not always easy to turn… But I do. I thank God for the gift of this moment — and for the second ice pack in the freezer.
And the clouds, at last, lift.
* * *
John Ortberg once said that “one of the most powerful ways to stop the spiral of worry is simply to disclose my worry to a friend… The simple act of reassurance from another human being [becomes] a tool of the Spirit to cast out fear — because peace and fear are both contagious.” – John Ortberg
“Worry is the facade of taking action when prayer really is.” ~ Ann Voskamp
“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” ~ Harry A. Ironside