Let’s face it, many of us have experienced our worst-case scenarios firsthand. Illness, loss, and solitude have plagued us. With the constant bombardment of bad news many of us have fallen into the trap of imaging the worst. We’re seeing stuff that we never thought possible, which is affecting our ability to hold on to hope.
This is not healthy for anybody, especially us Christians who are always saying God will never leave or forsake us.
Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
We know it’s not healthy to imagine terrible things that might happen. But we also don’t want to ignore what is happening and to pretend “everything is okay,” and that we’re simply fine either. How do we deal with the harsh realities we’re facing and still live with hope?
What’s the answer when we can’t stop imagining the worst?
We can remain confident that God is present even in the worst circumstances and He will be with us through them to the end. Rather than imagining the worst we can use our imaginations to focus on God’s promises.
Romans 8:28-39 NIV And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God readily gives us the help we need when we can’t stop imagining the worst.
Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
1. Trust in the promise of God’s presence, even in your worst-case scenario.
We have all heard the phrase that “we are in the middle of a storm, coming out of a storm, or about to enter a storm”. That is not very comforting when we are trying to demonstrate hope and joy to others. That’s why it’s important to remember God is always with us, even if and when the worst happens.
Psalms 23:4-6 NIV Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalms 139:7-12 NIV Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
God’s presence provides the strength and peace we need to make it through any storm. God will be with us in the struggle. Calming us, bringing clarity, and offering peace. Whatever happens, we can trust the promise of His gentle presence.
2. Don’t over think it.
We often over analyze things, and that makes us vulnerable to what-if questions. What if something bad happens? What if this doesn’t work? What-if questions are a natural part of our thought process, but rather than fixating on those questions, we need to live in with the expectation that God is working on our behalf.
Romans 8:28 NIV And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Our natural tendency is to always want to be in control. We want to be self-sufficient. When things happen that we didn’t anticipate we sense our self-sufficiency slipping away. We lose control, and that scares us. God wants us to release our need for answers to the what-if questions and trust Him completely. When we stop trying to analyze outcomes and remember that God is working, we will be amazed at the outcome. There are no what-ifs with God, and no limit to His blessing.
Isaiah 46:10 NIV I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’
Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Emphasis mine)
We may be apprehensive about what’s ahead, and that’s okay. We know from our life experiences that difficulties will come our way, but we can decide right now to use our imagination for good. We can let our imaginations point us toward God’s promises, knowing He is in control, instead of lingering in what-ifs. We can live today knowing our hope is in Him, and that’s the most wonderful thing we can imagine.
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.