It seems to strike when I least expect it. I was just loading some laundry into the washer, and bam. It hit me again: What if? I’ve fought it off several times before, thought I conquered it, but there it was staring up at me from the washing machine. No, it wasn’t a shirt I regretted buying. It was the disappointments from my mission experience last year. This is the third time I’ve gone through this “Re-Entry” thing, and this is perhaps the first time I’ve had to fight off so many “what-ifs.” Maybe because if my plans had gone the way they were supposed to, I’d still be out there, instead of sitting around, looking for a job. Maybe because I wonder how much more effective I could have been last year if things had gone the way they were supposed to. Even though I’ve had plenty of time to face these thoughts and conquer them throughout this year, sometimes it’s just as hard to remember to trust God with my past as it was to trust Him when it was happening.
It seems that one little question can multiply like a virus into a thousand more. Feelings can range from anger and regret to sadness and confusion. At the end of the day, I just want to know that it had to be this way. That there wasn’t something I could have done differently. Or at the very least, to see something in the plans-gone-wrong to make it worth it somehow. It’s easy to tell someone who is questioning to trust that God has a plan. But when you’re in the middle of it, it’s a lot harder to do when His plan seems so different from what you expected. From what seems better.
But I guess that is still what it comes down to. A choice to believe. An exercise of faith to pray that desperate prayer, “Lord, I believe. Please help my unbelief.” A turning of the eyes from myself to God; from my weakness and regrets to His strength and redemption. We all know that God does not rejoice in our suffering. He hates seeing us cry or rage at our disappointments. But sometimes He has to let us go through it anyway, for reasons we may not understand, just like He did with His own Son. And the hardest and best thing we can do is to put our “what-ifs” in Heaven’s offering plate. In that moment of surrender (which often must happen over and over), we find peace in return. We can discover that God Himself is enough, even if we lose everything else. And we learn that there is nothing wasted in His time-economy. Whatever happened, He can transform it into something good, something even beautiful. He will not fail to do this for us if we ask Him.
“We know that God makes all things work together
for the good
of those who love Him
and are chosen to be a part of His plan.”
Romans 8:28 (NLV)