Devotions

The End of “What If?”

February 4, 2020
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“… do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. … 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 4:6,8 (ESV)
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My chest was tight, and I couldn’t breathe.

It was a Sunday night before a busy week, and I was excited about everything ahead of me. Why couldn’t I catch a breath? It felt like my body yelled, “Something is wrong!” and my mind raced to figure out what. With my arms wrapped around my middle, I sat still and prayed. Sure enough, digging into the crevices of recent patterns of thinking, I noticed something. A subtle lie had begun to overshadow them all.

What if I fail? What if I’m not enough for this work?

If it had been a conscious thought, I would have fought it and chosen the truth: God chooses the least qualified so He gets the glory. I don’t have to measure up. But the lie pulled me into a spiral, and my body revealed the anxiety that set me spinning.

The enemy has ensnared us with these two little words: “What if?” And he sets our imaginations whirling, spinning tales of doom that lurk ahead.

Anxiety says, “What if?” What if I get too close to this person, and she manipulates me like the last friend I trusted? What if my spouse cheats on me? What if my children die tragically? What if my boss decides I'm expendable?

Certainly there are healthy levels of anxiety that signal our brains to be afraid of things truly worth being afraid of — like oncoming traffic.

But if you’re like me, we keep finding new concerns to worry about, as if by constant stewing we can prepare ourselves for what’s to come. But there is a better way, because we have a choice.

We can choose to trust God to give us what we need today, next week and 20 years from now, even if our worst nightmares come true. God’s promises give us hope in every circumstance. In the end, He will resolve every problem we may face here on earth. Paul wrote to the Philippian church about this truth, and then he gave us guidance for ridding ourselves of anxious thoughts:

“... do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. … 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 4:6,8).

For just a moment, let’s zero in on one of these replacement thoughts: “Whatever is true … think about such things.”

What gets me in trouble is worrying about things that might never happen. But Truth is the most powerful weapon I have against the enemy, who’s “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44c). So we fight the enemy with whatever is true — meaning, whatever is real!

When we allow our thoughts to spin out of control with worry and fear, either consciously or subconsciously, we try to play the all-knowing role only God can play. We forget it’s actually good news He’s in control, and we are not.

Even when our worst fears come true, God remains our unfailing hope. He gave us a way out of our spiraling anxiety. We have a choice to surrender our fears to God.

Now, change is difficult and may come slowly. But because we’ve been made new creations, we have the Spirit’s power to make the choice for truth. Changing our minds is possible! We can pull the “what if” thoughts out of our heads and replace them with what is true. In doing so, we destroy their power over us!

Lord, thank You for giving me the Holy Spirit to help me stop my spiraling, anxious thoughts. Help me trust You fully today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY

Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (ESV)

RELATED RESOURCES

The greatest spiritual battle of our generation is taking place between our ears. Again and again, we allow false thoughts about who we are to influence our thoughts about who God is and how He’s at work in our lives. But we have the opportunity to stop our spinning minds and escape toxic thinking patterns. Stop the spiral of toxic thoughts with Jennie Allen’s new book, Get Out of Your Head, available now.

CONNECT

Listen to Jennie’s podcast, Made for This on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher and Podbean.

And connect with Jennie on Instagram, or read more from Jennie on her blog.

Enter to WIN a copy of Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen. To celebrate, Jennie’s publisher will give away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and then notify each one in the comments section by Monday, February 10, 2020.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND

Take one of your anxious thoughts and write it down. What is the thought? Now diagnose the thought: Is it true?

Take it one step further and consider: What does God say about this thought? Next, answer that with Scripture, or answer it by processing with trusted people in your community. Then you have to make a choice: Will you believe God or believe the lie?

© 2020 by Jennie Allen. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks WaterBrook & Multnomah for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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