Have you ever found yourself thinking “If only I had done this” or “If only that hadn’t have happened” and find yourself fretting over the way things play out in life? I most definitely have done this very thing on more than one occasion.
In Acts 25 & 26 We find Paul has been arrested because the Jews are unhappy with him spreading the gospel of Christ. They ask Festus, the leader at the time, to do them a favor and have Paul sent to Jerusalem. Secretly, they had plotted an ambush to take place during the transportation, with the purpose of killing him. Paul, having no knowledge of this plan, decides to request that he stand before Cesar, instead of going to Jerusalem. Festus honors the request because Paul is of Roman decent. While still in jail, waiting his turn to go before Cesar, Agrippa the King and his wife Bernice arrive. Festus laid Pauls case before the king and Agrippa says he would like to hear from Paul himself. Paul goes before them and shares his testimony and the gospel of Christ. We see here that one more time, in the middle of Pauls trials, the opportunity is made to share the Gospel with people in leadership that might otherwise not have heard the Gospel. After the king hears Paul, he is talking with Festus and says, “If only he hadn’t requested to go before Cesar, he could go free!” This implies that the king would have pardoned him. If only…. What they don’t understand, is that if he hadn’t of requested to go before Cesar, he would already be dead and the king would never have heard the Gospel, but God knew. Paul of course goes on to share the Gospel everywhere he is taken.
We have a tendency to worry and fret over circumstances in our lives because we don’t have the ability to see and know the whole story. I am more and more convinced that we should not stress over these things. I admit that it is difficult not to react in this way, because in our own understanding things don’t seem right or just, but the reality is, God is orchestrating everything! Even the evil in the world can be used to further Gods plan. That is not to say that he causes or approves of evil, but that he can use that evil to bring about a miracle and/or a beautiful story of redemption. Think about it. The people Jesus healed while on earth were first, plagued by disease or evil, then healed. The life of Christ is the ultimate example of evil being present. Evil worked his plan to kill Jesus by planting a traitor right in his inner circle, and the plan succeeded! Jesus was crucified. I’m sure the disciples thought, “If only we had stayed awake to pray…” but God brought about the most miraculous and beautiful story of redemption ever told.
I am reminded of the scripture Isaiah 40:28 “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not grow faint or weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” In other words…..
“What in the world are you worried about???” I can picture him up there, pacing back and forth, throwing his hands in the air as he says “Do you think I don’t see?? Do you think I have dropped the ball??? WAIT upon the Lord Isaiah 40:31 says. I think he uses his hands when he talks, don’t you? I picture him up there looking at us, beating his hands on his chest saying in a voice mixed with love, frustration and authority, “I’VE GOT THIS!” while we are fretting saying “If only…”
Sometimes in life things happen that are heartbreaking. Sometimes we see how God redeems it, sometimes we don’t get to see how he redeems it. We live in a fallen world, so bad things happen. But God can make beauty from ashes if we will bring those disappointments, broken dreams and heartbreak to him. Isaiah 40:28 says his understanding is unsearchable. I believe I have seen the heart of God in the scriptures and in my own life. God is love. God is holy. God is sovereign. So I will choose to trust him. Will you? I will strive to be “easy going” in this life and remember to trust him, even in the things I cannot understand.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways, acknowledge him and he will direct your path.”
The next time you think or say “If only..” follow it up with, “But God…”