The Power of “What If?”

Sometimes life is just hard. Things happen we don’t understand and can’t explain, although we usually try to. And very often we let our thoughts run away from us, allowing fear to drown us in questions and rob our hope.

Today I’d like to share an article by Dr. Michelle Bengtson that I pray will help you to practically apply faith when fear questions your future. Our thoughts and words carry power. Let’s learn to use them to release life!

Seven Powerful Truths to Remember When You are Tempted to Ask, What If?

by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

I wonder if you’re anything like me.

“I hate to tell you this, but you need to go home and get your affairs in order.”

How could that be? We were young, and still considered ourselves newlyweds despite having been married 14 years. We had waited 12 years to have children, until after I had finished all my years of schooling to become a doctor, and then the requisite years of internship and post-doctoral training. Now with a toddler in tow, the oncologist was telling us that cancer was going to rob our son of his father.

Fear and worry assaulted me at my core.

I knew what it was like to grow up without a father. Mine was taken at a young age from a fatal heart attack. I remember the pain from the lack, and I pictured the same for my son.

Fortunately, as a toddler, he was too young to feel the sting of cancer’s razor sharp tear in the fabric of our family’s tapestry. Grandparents descended upon our home to fill in the gap with the caregiving so I could be at doctor’s appointments and chemotherapy treatments.

While doctor’s predictions were for my husband to live but a short couple of years, God had a different plan, and He is, after all, the one who plans our days and orders our steps.

Even after all the treatment, we continued to return every three months, then every six, then eventually once a year for repeat PET scans to monitor for a relapse, each time holding our breath. Each time wondering, “What if?”

“What if the treatment didn’t work?”
“What if the cancer returns?”
“What if he doesn’t defy the odds?”
“What if the scan doesn’t show what’s really there?”
“What if the cancer metastasizes like predicted?”
“What if…?”

Finally, through years of questioning, years of pleading, years of laying down my doubts and fears and concerns at the cross, God asked the most important question.

“What if…you trusted me?”

“What if, you believed that the same God who defied the odds before and healed your husband of cancer the first time could protect him and you in all your tomorrows?”

Wow. Yes, Lord. What if?

You see, He’s been teaching me about the power of two little words: “What if?”

The enemy of my soul uses those two words against me to incite fear and worry and anxiety. Those two words steal my peace from today as I anxiously focus on tomorrow, rather than sitting in His presence in the present.

Fast forward 15 years, we find ourselves in a similar scenario.

The day that we had been looking forward to for years, the day of the release of my first book, “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression,” we heard the words we hoped we’d never hear again: “Your biopsy results came back positive: you have cancer.”

The doctor revealed that while my husband had been healed of his cancer from years before, the current cancer was considered “a secondary cancer” meaning it was a result of the chemotherapy he received to treat the original cancer.

Immediately our focus shifted from release party festivities, interviews and marketing plans to blood work, PET scans, bone marrow biopsies, port placements, and more doctor visits than we could remember without a calendar. And sadly, what if’s…

“What if the very thing that was used to save his life before is what kills him now?”
“What if the chemotherapy doesn’t work this time?”
“What if we aren’t so ‘lucky’ this time?”
“What if my sons have to grow up without their Dad?”
“What if I become a widow?”
“What if…?”

I immediately jumped into old, familiar ways of coping: doing and staying busy. Alerting family and friends of the news and answering the plethora of questions with what little information I had. Planning freezer meals for the weeks when doctors’ appointments and chemotherapy kept us too busy to shop or cook. Rearranging my schedule at work to accommodate the myriad of new appointments that needed to be worked into the schedule.

In my effort to control the uncontrollable, the busyness overwhelmed me and left me depleted and exhausted until finally one day, I collapsed in a pile on the floor and I wept uncontrollably. How had we gotten here and what were we going to do?

As I cried out to the Lord in my desperation, I heard his familiar question yet again, “What if…you trusted me?”

“What if you believed that this didn’t take me by surprise?”

“What if you believed that I really do work all things together for your good?”

“What if you remembered that I know the plans I have for you, and I have declared that my plans for you are good, and they include a future and a hope!”

“What if you remembered that I am good, my ways are good, and my love for you is everlasting?”

“What if you remembered that I proved myself faithful to you when you went through this before, and knowing that I am the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, believed that I will be faithful through this as well?”

“What if you stopped listening to the father of lies who fills your mind with ‘What ifs?’ and kept your eyes on me and listened only to the voice of your Heavenly Father who speaks truth and love?”

As I dried my tears and finished my prayer time with the Lord, I found a new determination to let go of the anxiety-producing “What ifs?” and take hold of the peace that prevails because of Him.

Do you need to do the same?

Because of Him, #PeacePrevails!

Visit Michelle’s blog for more encouragement and discover how Hope Prevails.

Despairing of Hope, or Living With It

But when I hoped for good, evil came, and when I waited for light, darkness came. Job 30:26

I wonder if you’ve ever felt the heavy weight of our opening scripture.

Perhaps you allowed your heart to hope for good—believed God for something good—but the good you hoped for didn’t appear. Instead evil leered at you, taunting you with a darkness that overwhelmed.

And you were tempted to disbelieve John 1:5.

 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

I faced that temptation last week, beloved. Pain has a way of casting a shadow that seems impossible to escape. Especially pain evoked from loss.

And I recently lost someone I love to glory. The frail tent of my dear aunt’s body gave way to the cancer she battled. Now my mother grieves the loss of her beloved sister while facing another three months of chemo herself. Chemo she didn’t anticipate. Her doctors and faithful prayer had projected remission.

It didn’t come.

Now faith is tested while hope dwindles. Darkness approaches, proclaiming a message of hopelessness, sucking away life like a vacuum. Only the emptiness isn’t a void. Fear fills it. Unimaginable pain. Sorrow. Despair.

We so easily allow the darkness to rob our hope, beloved.

But what if we refuse to let the darkness win? What if we recognize that we are the light that overcomes darkness? What if we choose to believe what God says despite what circumstances declare?

I know my God, dear one, and I know His goodness. He is incorruptible. Perfect. Kind. And He always keeps His Word. Always.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

It seems impossible to believe. Can God really bring a great good from death and suffering?

Yes, beloved. Just look at Jesus. What appeared to be humanity’s darkest hour became its brightest. Jesus’ suffering unleashed life and blessing that still produces a harvest.

And now He challenges us to follow His example.

But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:13

Glory looms on the horizon for the heart infused with faith. And hope for a future joy that waits beyond the darkness.

Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. Psalm 119:49-50

Life flows into the hearts of the afflicted when we choose to believe God’s promises. I am living proof of the miracle faith produces when we yield our hearts to the will of our good, good Father. My heart hurts for the people I love. But I do not despair. Hope in my Father’s Word engulfs my heart with peace. It beats with purpose, anticipating a harvest we cannot yet conceive.

Joy released through suffering.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Beloved, God loves us too much to allow us to live lacking. He wants us perfect and complete, and He will do whatever it requires. He gave His Son to remove our lack. Will we also trust Him by surrendering our loved ones?

The Holy Spirit recently gripped my heart with Jesus’ words in Mark 10:29-30.

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”

What are you willing to leave for Jesus’ sake, beloved? Will you relinquish your suffering loved ones? Will you entrust them to God’s will, feeling the sorrow but releasing all bitterness?

No one who has surrendered a loved one for Jesus’ sake and for the sake of the gospel will fail to receive a hundredfold blessing, now in this time. This isn’t just about heavenly crowns. It represents an earthly harvest. But the fulfillment of that blessing will be released through persecutions. Pain. Suffering. Loss.

And faith.

What is that harvest worth to you, beloved?

Surrender your heart to your Father’s will. Find hope as you believe His Word. And experience His resurrection life.

You were wearied with the length of your way, but you did not say, “It is hopeless”; you found new life for your strength, and so you were not faint. Isaiah 57:10

I believe, Lord Jesus. Bring life.