If Only I Had …
Lysa TerKeurst

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32 (NIV)

There's a simple little script many of us play in our mind—simple, yet incredibly dangerous. Dare I say it's one of the biggest things that hold us back from feeling fulfilled in our relationship with God. It's a script tangled in a lie that typically goes something like this: I could really be happy and fulfilled if only I had …
… a skinnier body.
… a husband.
… a husband who was more tender and romantic.
… more money.
… a more successful career.
… a better personality.
… a baby.
… smarter kids.

I don't know what your "if only I had" statements are, but I do know that none of them will bring fulfillment. They might bring temporary moments of happiness… but not true fulfillment.

In the book I just wrote, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl, I expose the "if only I had" lie with this truth: Apart from a thriving relationship with God, even if we got everything on our list, there would still be a hollow gap in our soul.

Instead of saying, "If only I had" and filling in the blank with some person, possession, or position, make a choice to replace that statement with God's truth. Here are some examples that have helped me battle the temptation to let people, possessions, or positions take God's place in my life.


I no longer say, "If only I had a daddy who loved me.…" Instead, I say, "Psalm 68:5 promises God will be a father to the fatherless."

Maybe your gap isn't left by an absent father but by a friend who hurt you. Or perhaps a husband who left you. Or the children you've longed to have and still don't. Whatever that gap is, God is the perfect fit for your emptiness. Pray this paraphrase of Luke 1:78–79: "Because of the tender mercy of my God by which the rising sun will come to me from heaven—to shine on my darkness and in what feels like the shadow of death to me—I will find peace."


I no longer say, "If only I had more possessions …." Instead, I recite Matthew 6:19–21: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Any possession I ever long for, no matter how good it may seem, will only be good for a limited time. In light of eternity, every possession is in the process of breaking down, becoming devalued, and will eventually be taken from us. If I set my heart solely on acquiring more things, I'll feel more vulnerable with the possibility of loss.

Possessions are meant to be appreciated and used to bless others. They were never meant to be identity markers. It's not wrong to enjoy the possessions we have as long as we don't depend on them for our heart's security.


I no longer say, "If only I had a better position .…" Instead, I say the words of Psalm 119:105: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." I don't need a better position to get where I should go. I don't have to figure out my path and jockey to get ahead. I need God's Word to guide me. As I follow Him and honor Him step-by-step, I can be assured that I'm right where He wants me to be doing what He wants me to do.

Whatever "if only I had" statement you are struggling with, you can replace it with solid truths from Scripture that will never leave you empty. It's a bold assertion to make but it's true. When God's Word gets inside of us, it becomes the new way we process life. It rearranges our thoughts, our motives, our needs, and our desires. Our soul was tailor-made to be filled with God and His truth, therefore, it seeps into every part of us and fills us completely.

Dear Lord, I acknowledge only You can fill those empty places in my heart. Help me to stop the "if only I had" cycle and instead be set free with Your truth. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa’s blog to read a chapter from her new book, “Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.”

Click here to order Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
What "if only I had" statements do you struggle with?
What are some verses you could use to replace your "if only I had" lies?

Why do we struggle with trying to get our needs met by people, possessions and positions?

What are some dangerous outcomes of this pattern?

Power Verses:
Luke 1:78–79: "Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." (NIV)

Psalm 119: 30–32, "I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD; do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." (NIV)

© 2009 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Blogger mommyof2 said...

I just read the devotion for today. I realized that I really did need to read those words. I have been struggling with wishing that my marriage & husband were different. I have been shoving those thoughts into the back of my mind when they come and not always dealing with them head on. Thanks to this devotion, I truly see that the thoughts are a sin and a lie from satan. I need to pray and cling to God & His Word when thoughts like these come because only God can completely fulfill me!

Blogger Kelsie said...

Thank you for this idea. I know that we are to replace sinful thoughts, and what better replacement than God's Word?!

Anonymous Jess said...

I know these truths in my head, but sometimes my heart and Satan's lies try to tell me differently. I have been rather depressed lately, and couldn't quite put my finger on what was wrong. I think this is it: I have been thinking way too much about a host of "if only"s. And even when I GET one of them, it doesn't make me content... it just feeds my desire for more and leaves me feeling even emptier than I was before! God help me cling to the truth when these discontented thoughts come to my mind. He IS GOOD and is ALL that I need. Thank you for this reminder.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today I was in tears, feeling frustrated after a rough afternoon at work. I had a lot of until when's? if only's? Thank you for reminding me that only God's will prevails, God's truth shall set me free and that God's word is the lamp to my feet and the light to my path, all this only reminds me that I am not alone, but God is with me in all this!Help me Lord to hold on to you all the time, and to never give up!

Blogger Christina Berry said...

This is really wonderful! Thanks for posting it! I'm so thrilled to wake up to devotions like this in my inbox every morning!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I realized while reading this devotion that it applied to me because of my big "If Only I Could"...which is "if only I could get everything done"...I am off to find scriptures to replace those thoughts. Thank you for your devotion.

Blogger Tammy said...

Wow. God's perfect timing never ceases to amaze me. This week has been filled with "if only's" for me as I prepare to host a pray & play group at our house tomorrow. If only
-I had a cleaner house
-I had a maid
-I had a bigger house
-I knew what to say!
-It wasn't going to rain!

My list goes on and on... but I so appreciate your words today and God's truth that will over power these dreadful "if only" thoughts. Thank you!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So true the grass is always green on the other side just for a while once you walk you find poop inbetween the green grass , God gives us what we need, not what we always want, jesus is the if I only had

Anonymous rocker said...

We have to remember there are no trailer hitches on a hearse! all of what we accumulate will not matter when we pass,but what does matter,when we meet our maker on the last day,is how we lived our life and if we believed in Jesus Christ--the one and only salvation!
Abba Father

Blogger Lisa V. said...

Wow, I love that that section,

"When God's Word gets inside of us, it becomes the new way we process life. It rearranges our thoughts...".

It is sooooo true.

Anonymous Naoko said...

Today's devotions comes to my heart deeply. This week, God has revealed to me that he wants me to talk with him more and more instead of relying my own ideas. However each morning I wake up, I start thinking "What if, what if" situation a lot then I struggle and get frustrated.

Honestly, it is hard to see my weakness and inside of me. I have covered it all the time till now. However now God is really showing it to me and he wants me to face with it and grow. After I read this devotion, it is much more clear what God is telling me right now.

It's hard and I don't know how long it takes but I know God is with us all the time and he prepare the way for us too!
Thank you!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I needed to read this devotion as I just got done paying our bills. The economy has hit my husband's job pretty hard, but we have determined to be faithful in our tithing. So as I paid bills with late payments attached, and saw the final balance in our account and realized we don't even have enough for a full tank of gas, let alone groceries, I quickly became saddened with a head full of "if onlys and a lot of guilt..."

I will trust the Lord to continue providing for us. Even though I can't see how, He has not failed us yet... :-)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If only... If only.... If only.....
This has been my moto just about all my life- but- "no longer." I refuse to be a victum any longer! I will with the lords- help-be a conqurering warrior! I will act instead of react to satins barbs and my own insecurties.I do realize God has equipped me with all i need to be a overcommer for his glory because of his word and for what he has done for me! God speed to you all. ksn

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