“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31
The English language has a lot of “dangerous” words.
Some are risky because of reactions they can incite in others. Others are hazardous only from the damage they inflict on our own hearts and souls.
Here are two when, used in combination, are lethal to the spirit: “If only.”
“If only” is a hymn of regret, a capitulation to remorse, a soliloquy of sadness. It desperately grasps for a second chance, in a world where they are few and far between. It’s about decision-making, sure, but on a raw, emotive level laid bare like few others.
“If only I’d applied for the job …”
“If only I’d asked her (or him) out …”
“If only I had one last chance to tell him (or her) I loved them …”
The words themselves aren’t emotional. Sports fans are big on “what if” – the shot had gone in, the player had held onto the ball, the coach had made a different decision. When winning and losing are so cut and dried, “what if” is part of the everyday vernacular.
For most people, though, “what if” conjures up bad memories, lost hopes and broken dreams. Its use cries for consolation and reinforcement, sometimes to shore up a mountain of self-doubt.
Does the Bible offer comfort? Depends on where you look.
Consider the dark images from these literal uses of “what if,” in consecutive verses in Job 17: “What if I go to the grave and make my bed in darkness? What if I call the grave my father, and the maggot my mother or my sister?”
Or this fear of personal failure expressed in Genesis 24:39: “But I said to my master, ‘What if I can’t find a young woman who is willing to go back with me?’”
The doubting voice in the back of our minds is part of the human condition. As these verses illustrate, even Biblical characters questioned their own abilities and chances for success.
It’s not all gloom and doom – not by a long shot. So let’s shift to the other side of the equation, using probably one of the most-loved Bible verses of all time.
“But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” – Matthew 19:26
Here is the crux of the issue: As long as the spirit of Christ dwells within us, nothing is impossible. We can overcome anything, even the fears and self-doubts that hold us back.
We doubt ourselves because we’re sinners. We know it. God knows it … and through Christ’s crucifixion, our transgressions are forgiven.
Yet we can’t let go of our doubt, similar to a panicking Peter amid the raging sea in Matthew 14:31, before Jesus grabbed his hand and asked, “Oh man of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Peter was just one of the sinful people God has always used to do his work. Think of the others: Noah. Jacob. Moses. David. Paul. The list goes on.
Are you somehow excluded?
Whether we realize it or not, we’re all on the list. Despite our sinful ways, and constant self-doubt, we’re put on this earth to be Christ’s disciples. God entrusts us, with all our faults, to further his kingdom. Is there any higher purpose in life?
God grants us the ability to move beyond hopelessness and regrets. He grants us a fresh start every time we bow our head in prayer. Revel in it, draw power from it, and know that, because Christ is in us, our potential is unlimited … and the impossible, is possible.
“If only” is an outdated concept dashed upon the rocks of God’s life-saving shore. Remember this, the next time you temporarily lose sight of His vision for you.
If only I had the power to …
If only I had the strength to …
If only I had the courage to …
You have all three – power, strength and courage – emanating from Christ’s filling your being. Go into the world, and use these qualities to spread God’s love and word, every day. And if you end up saying “If only I’d realized this sooner” … well, that’s OK.
(If you’re ready to embrace Christ, He’s ready for you. Visit C Suite for Christ to join in Christ-centered fellowship with other professionals. Submit a prayer request for a pressing need in your life. Participate in a virtual prayer session to ask God to be with those who have submitted requests. Follow C Suite for Christ on LinkedIn and Facebook. Questions? Contact Paul M. Neuberger at (414) 313-8338 or [email protected].)