Do you remember that film Sliding Doors? The difference it made to the characters lives just by whether Gwyneth Paltrow’s character caught the tube on time or missed it? How much time have you spent on ‘What ifs’? What if I had gone to a different school, if I had passed that exam, if I hadn’t gone to Malawi? What ifs can be fun for day dreams but at other times they can be exhausting, full of sadness and regret. I help with a GriefShare group, a course for bereaved people, and the ‘what ifs’ can be gut-retching: “what if I had told him I loved him, what if I had stopped him from getting in the car, what if I hadn’t have left the hospital…” In the middle of the night the ‘what ifs’ can be deafening.
On the other hands some ‘what ifs’ bring great relief and gladness. I read recently that Andrea Bocelli’s mum had been advised to abort him after medical complications during her pregnancy – what if she had done so? The world you be a poorer place without his voice. What if I hadn’t put my seat belt on, what if I hadn’t been delayed and missed that flight that crashed….
The problem with ‘what ifs’ is that we will never know the answer, we can day dream about them, be stalked by them, or be relieved by them, but we can never live them. They are the unmade choice, the untaken action, the unknown consequence. We must rest our minds in the fact that God knows what happened, what will happen and what could have happened.
Psalms 139:1-4 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
Lord, help me rest my mind in the knowledge that you know my past, my future and my ‘what ifs’.