“What If?”
Susanne Scheppmann

“Then Esther sent this message to Mordecai: ’Go and gather together all the Jews of Shushan and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day; and I and my maids will do the same; and then, though it is strictly forbidden, I will go in to see the king; and if I perish, I perish.’” Esther 4:15-16 (TLB)

“Are you afraid of snakes?” my friend’s son asked with a smirk.

I felt a surge of fear at the question. Then I noticed his hands hidden below the kitchen counter. I swallowed hard as I realized he probably held a snake in his twelve-year-old hands.

What if I answered, “Yes”?
What if he tossed it in my lap to watch my horrified reaction?

“Not much,” I answered.

Sure enough, he came around the corner holding a wiggly, white and orange snake.

However, my answer had clearly deflated his mischievous intentions. He brought the harmless critter closer but held it tightly in his hands. Bored with the result, he left the room with the snake in tow to find a different surprised soul with a phobia of snakes. I breathed a sigh of relief and unclenched my sweaty palms.

Don’t we often react in the same manner with God? We fear that if we decide to trust Him, He will allow something horrible in our lives. We ask ourselves all sorts of fear-filled questions. What if God sends me to be missionary in a remote country? What if I get cancer? What if He wants me to live a life of poverty? What if He takes one of my children? What if He desires I stay single? What if? What if? What if?

An ancient queen, Esther, faced a tremendous “what if” in her life. She was called upon to stand up to an evil man, Haman, at the risk of losing her life. At first, she reacted with a stout refusal. But her cousin Mordecai challenged her with these words, “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NLT). Esther overcame her fear and responded with the words found in our Key Verse, “though it is strictly forbidden, I will go in to see the king; and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:15-16 TLB).

I want that kind of courage. I desire to have God’s Spirit to overcome all my “what if” fears. I desire to trust Him in every area of my life. Whether it is in overcoming a fear of a silly, wiggly snake or a terrible, malevolent tyrant, I need His peace in my life.

Dear Lord, help me to overcome my fears of “what if” and to trust in Your divine purpose in my life. Give me Your peace when my fears rise up. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do you know Him?

This devotion is excerpted from Birds in My Mustard Tree by Susanne Scheppmann.

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
List the “what ifs” that you fear. Browse through your Bible concordance to find Scriptures that will help combat your fears.

Reflections:

Are my “what ifs” a result of needless worry or a likely reality?

How can I push through my fear?

Do I trust the Lord’s sovereign will in my life?

Power Verses:
Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (NIV)

Daniel 3:17-18, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (NIV)

[Excerpt © Randall House Publishing, 2008. Used by permission.]

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12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, fear has held me back all my life. But now I know how to push beyond it and it is God's power through His Holy Spirit that makes me successful. I praise God for Esther and her courage. I really love the two power verses Thank you for this encouragement as I continue to fight fear.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the word. However, most of our "what if" are different. For example, I have a couple of children with strong drug addictions and each time I see signs of them falling back into that way of life my heart and fear rises. I pray for peace but it is so hard to not play the "what if" since I have already seen alot of the issues addictions causes. I have served the Lord for 22 wonderful years and even tho I do not blame God for my children choices I still ask "why" and "what if" they would have made a different choice. Not playing the "what if" game is easier said than done, at least in my case. However, today they all are in Teen Challenge and I praise God and I pray they stay there until they allow God to have total control of lives. I catch myself pleading with God, not to let them leave TC due to the fears that I have of "what could happen"

Again, thank you for the word.

Anonymous Desi said...

Thank you for the word, it encourages me to trust the Lord wholeheartedly.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Susanne, you don't know how much I needed to hear that today. In a time of great turmoil and uncertainty in my life, your devotion was truly God sent.

Anonymous Treajames said...

I Thank You for today's devotion. It was a reminded for me. I would like to encourage the lady who spoke about her kids and there drugs problem. I have been in your shoes. How you get rid of the "what if" is you focus on what GOD has promised you and the scripture he has given you to hold on too. You love your children where they are at this time and be there example of the GOD within you. Ask GOD to help you see your childern as he sees them. You are looking at the outward man and not the heart. When you have an addiction of any kind it means you are hiding a hurt in your heart. Pray without ceasing and allow God to do the rest. You can't change them only GOD can do that, so the power you have is YOUR Prayers for them. Never think the worst always see things in a positive way.... because GOD is in control of all things. IF he allows things to happen there is a purpose behind it. IF we never did wrong we would never know what to turn away from and Whom to turn too.

Blogger Brey said...

I am signed up for so many devotionals from Crosswalk that every morning it can be overwhelming to see 8-9 emails at once. I don't always get to them daily but will take some time eventually to go through and read all of them. But every now and again, my spirit is drawn to a particular email and everytime I choose one to read immedietly, it is always a word for the issue I am dealing with in my heart and mind. This was one of them.

Many and much of my what ifs have stemmed from the passing of my mother two years ago. We were very close and though I believe her life's story had to begin and end as it did (because God does not make mistakes), I often wonder what was I supposed to learn from that turning point in my life. She died of cancer after 3 strong years of fighting and seeing the most determined unmovable faith I have ever seen. I learned so much on how to depend on God in the small things in life just as the big things in life such as staying faithful and prayerful when dealing with an illness. But even with watching her show such strength and courage, she still passed. My what ifs immedietly began with thinking...what if I get cancer? What if I showcase the same strenght and faith as my mom did since she showed me through her example...will I still die? Will financial struggles be my mine in spite of my faith and prayers, will I be single forever even though my heart's desire is to be loved and adored by a man of God?

I have watched my mom exercise unbending faith even when it seemed like very few of her prayers were answered.

The enemy tries to tell me what's the point in praying and believing if I'm still going to experience the same outcome as my mother did but I know better than that.

I still can't help to think about the what ifs but I am tired of living in fear and I'm tired of having questions that I more than likely won't have the answers to. I know I have to believe regardless and live my life to the fullest. Plus, if I don't believe in God...I might as well be dead for being hopeless and living in fear is just the equivalent.

Does anyone have any insight on why my what ifs have stemmed from the passing of a loved one and just as the reflection question have asked...how do get the answer to the question Are my "what ifs" a result of needless worry or a likely reality?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Brey, thanks for sharing with us about yourself and your mom. I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart for what you have suffered in losing someone so close to you. I'm able to empathize because I, too, lost my mom about 2 1/2 years ago in a car accident. In answer to your question about why losing your mom brought up all those "what if's," I would suggest that it's because the experience brought you face to face with the reality that even when you have faith and a good relationship with God, horrible painful things may sometimes be within His will for you. Ever since my mom's passing, I've had this fear from the Enemy that in my prayers, I need to put in little exceptions and caveats to protect myself from God answering my prayers in painful ways. For example, God please give me greater faith--oh but please don't put me through anything really painful to get there. I have to keep reminding myself that God is not some malicious child king up in heaven, waiting for me to slip up and leave a loophole in my prayer so that He can play tricks on me and hurt me. He is my loving Father, whose heart breaks whenever He sees me weeping from the pain of losing my mom. He would never let me go through pain without a good reason, and He will never leave me or forsake me. I encourage you to claim these truths for yourself as well. As for how to tell whether your "what ifs" are based on needless worry or likely reality, I would suggest that the answer would not be that useful to you. There's no perfect way of knowing whether any of those "what ifs" are going to come true, so I'd encourage you to work to trust in God regardless of how statistically likely something appears. Take all your fears to God in prayer and ask Him to show you every day that His grace is sufficient for you. Hope this helps, and I hope both you and your mom have a blessed day. =)
--from a sister in Christ

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i've always been prone to be fearful of the "what ifs" very specifically that someone close to be will die. I know fear is not from God. But why is it that i am seriously paralyzed by this fear so often? It comes a lot of times after reading my Bible verses like trials and testing of our faith. Or when i hear of someone losing someone (which i feel is a lot) or someone speaking about trials etc. Friday night it just really got to me. It's like...I love God so much. I want to serve Him faithfully, i want to grow, and I absolutely don't want to fear things I have no control over. But I feel like I'm afraid of God's sovereinty. I know whatever He brings into my life is for His glory and for my good and that he works all things for the good of those who love him, but for some reason I can't get past this fear that He is going to take someone close to me. And I feel like when I am learning certain things (like lately I've been learning a lot about trials and suffering) and it scares me b/c i'm afraid God is preparing me for somthing really hard. i know I'm crazy for thinking that way. I know in my head that God isn't cruel and he loves me and desires the best for me; that his plans are not to harm me...

I guess my question for anyone who would like to comment, is how can I practically get past this fear? And why do I have it so often?

Thank you and God bless

Blogger Brey said...

To the anonymous person who spoke about the what if fear of God preparing you to deal with the loss of losing someone close to you, I want to share my story in hopes it helps you see things differently.

My mom was diagnosed with cancer on 12/24/02. I cried out to God that I was not ready for her to go. My care pastor told me that God would not take her ever until he knew that I was prepared. It was something I had to come to grips with because God's will is not always our will. Who in there right mind would want a loved one to die? We would want God to always allow our loved ones to stay here on earth with us but that's not how life works. There comes a season and a time for everything so I knew that one day, I was going to have to accept the fact that I may be on this earth without her. Those 3 1/2 years as we went through what we went through (spiritually for the both of us and mentally and physically for her), my prayers always ended with let your will be done and give me the strength and peace to accept your will. When I realized that the Lord was choosing to heal her in heaven and not on earth (he didn't deny our prayers for healing), I can't explain to you how my heart and soul felt. I was having an out of body experience every day that passed that her health was failing. He had prepared me. My spirit was getting ready. I felt Jesus more then than ever. When she passed...yeah, I teared. I don't know how I made it through all of the transitions to this point but by God's grace, I did. Yeah, I have other what if issues regarding the passing of my mom but it's not why he took her as it is me searching on what was I supposed to get out of the whole experience. It was definitly a lesson to be learned just by looking at the course of events. I never seen someone pray and believe so hard that they would be healed of cancer and still die, but I will never second guess God's decision for it is his will and not ours.

So I say all of that to say...you want God to prepare you for any trials and tribulations no matter how severe it may be. A loss is a loss. The loss of a job...loved one...body part or whatever. I can assure you that being prepped by God is way better than not. Death and the end of things is undeniable so I wouldn't want you to be afraid of that. I would encourage you to focus that feeling into asking God to give you or teach you peace on how to deal with both the highs and lows in your life. It's how you respond to the lows and your Christ character that shows in the bad times that people can see....God is in you and holding you up. You have to know that in all things...God is going to set you up to where he gets the Glory.

I hope this helps.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been struggling with some major 'what if's' and now I see why. I was reading John 8:44 and realized that satan is made of 100% lie and nothing else -- that's his trade, to lie. His lies made me question God's sovereignty. I met a guy that I was not attracted to and was convinced that God would force me to like him because I'm not getting younger. Sounds silly but it sent me looking for my ex because I would rather be with the past then embrace that future. My what if sent me straight into disobedience (action). God is faithful and will never short-change us (James 1:17). When God gives, He gives perfectly! He is not a cheater or liar. He is a wonderful, wonderful God.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I put up the previous anonymous post and wanted to respond to the lady living in fear. I too live in fear and begged God to find a way to Continually trust Him. His answer to me was John 8:32 - the TRUTH shall make you free. So I sought the truth for hours today. Satan does not let up -- that's his trade, if we are not memorizing key scripture, we won't have the truth to resist him like Jesus did and not get frazzled. Here are some key verses, see which ones will help you stay strong and memorize the TRUTHS.

God is here - Zephaniah 3:17
17 The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."

He will satisfy my desires – Psalm 145:14-19
14 The LORD upholds all who fall, And raises up all who are bowed down. 15 The eyes of all look expectantly to You, And You give them their food in due season. 16 You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing. 17 The LORD is righteous in all His ways, Gracious in all His works. 18 The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. 19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them.

God will not short-change me – James 1:17
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Free –John 8:31-36
31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Satan - John 8:44
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

Faith – Hebrews 11:1, 6
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Run for an Audience of One – Hebrews 12:1-2
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Temptation – Hebrews 2:18
18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

Mercy and Grace – Hebrews 4:15-16
15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Fellowship – Hebrews 10:24-25
24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

God is Faithful – Hebrews 13:5-6
5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”[a] 6 So we may boldly say: “ The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

Tongue – James 1:19-20, 26
19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.

True Wisdom – James 3:14-18
14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Resist Satan – James 4:7, 10
7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Submit to God, Resist the Devil – 1 Peter 5:5-11
5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for
“ God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Wait, God is Faithful – Lamentation 3:22-26
22 Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24 “ The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “ Therefore I hope in Him!” 25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. 26 It is good that one should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the LORD.

Cheerful Giver – 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

On August 1, 2001 my youngest brother was killed in a work related accident. I turned to the Lord for comfort and help with the mental battle of questions and grief that followed. He lead me to a book that a friend had given me just a few months before, Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman's Guide to Finding Contentment by Linda Dillow. It brought me much peace and comfort during those next couple of months which were especially hard because my grief was compounded by 9-11. I deeply identified with those who had lost loved ones on that day. As I watched the tragedy unfold on t.v., I wept. My 5 year-old son asked me one day “Are you crying for your brother or 9-11?” I replied “Both”. Then by God’s grace I forced myself to get up and be “mom” again.

I read chapters in Dillow’s book over and over again as medicine for my mind. It actually has a chapter on “What Ifs”. About the time I would start to think, “Yeah, but you’re not living in my circumstances.” Dillow would tell a story of a woman who faced more challenges than me. As I read the book and prayed, God would speak words of comfort to my heart, as only He can, and He helped me to see things from His perspective. I feel for those of you who are dealing with fears and questions and are having challenges trusting God’s love for your life, as well as, the lives of your loved ones. I would suggest that you read this book. I hope that God will use it in your lives, as He used it in mine.

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