Once in a while, some frightening notion pops into my head and draws me in. If I’m not careful, I’ll nurture it, develop it, and begin to wrap myself in worry about something that was, an instant ago, no more than a passing thought. I begin to solve a problem or cope with a tragedy that doesn’t even exist, meanwhile missing the real joys or challenges of the present moment. Haven’t you done the same thing? Sadly, doubts and fears become our own by willful adoption.
Matthew 6:34 gives us direct instructions, “Do not worry about tomorrow.” Still, we find it hard to stop what my mom calls “borrowing trouble.” How foolish it is to “what if” ourselves into a frenzy! When we step into a fictional place where our worst imaginings are coming true, we are ill equipped. God’s promises are for real battles. As we begin to worry about what will happen if so-and-so does such-and-such, we step into a virtual reality game with our spiritual hands tied behind our backs.
When caught in the midst of imagined trials, we ought to bring our concerns to the Lord right away, telling him all about them and proclaiming our trust in him. We need to stay in the present moment and refuse to dwell on our made-up scenarios of unsolvable trouble.
Corrie ten Boom learned early in life that God equips us with all the strength we need, but rarely before the need arises. As a child she described some youthful concern to her father. He wisely responded with a question, “Corrie, on our trips to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket for the train?” Corrie knew she always received a ticket from Papa ten Boom as she was boarding. Her father likened that ticket to the strength God gives us in times of trouble. Often, we receive those “tickets” of grace at the very moment when we are boarding those trains of trouble. (Corrie later helped her family hide Jews from the Nazi’s and paid for her “crime” with a long stint in a concentration camp. I expect her father’s words helped her walk through each trial as it came.)
Full reliance on the Lord brings freedom from anxiety. Why not believe he’ll give us those tickets when we need them? God always comes through, but on his own schedule. The answer to every terrorizing “what if” is this: God will be with us no matter what happens.