Written by Trent Kenney
I am an overthinker way too much of the time. Often, “what if” questions about my future keep me awake at night and cause me to live in my own world during the day. As a guy in my early 20s, I think about completing my education, paying expenses, career plans, and providing for a future family.
While thinking deeply can be a good thing, it can also take away from my enjoyment of the present. I think it’s important to ask, What worries or anxieties am I facing? And, How do I respond wisely and live my life according to the will of Christ?
The danger of worry
I’ve heard it said that Satan is very crafty in using uncertainty and anxieties to try to lead us away from God. To me, this used to seem like one of those Christian culture sayings. I found it irritating, honestly. But the statement is packed full of truth about how sin has impacted our human tendencies.
The temptation to worry is so effective because it leads to feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty about God’s provision and goodness. This can lead us to question whether faith in God is even worthwhile anymore.
I struggle with many what if’s. What if I don’t get a job that could provide for a family? What if I lose my confidence and hope in myself? What if I am not enough for a future wife?
These thoughts can be draining and downright consuming. Trust me, I understand! But is this really what a mind devoted to Christ ought to think like?
How to respond wisely to our fears
Turning worries into prayers has reframed my perspective and resulted in a deeper relationship with Jesus. Praying about my fears led to transparency with God, myself, and others.
Prayer is not a magic recipe. God is not a genie. We should never view talking to God as “insert prayer here and expect instant calmness and assurance.”
Instead, prayer requires persistently coming to Christ with earnest hearts, trusting that the fruit of our requests will come about at His appointed time and according to His will.
Often, this process tests our faith. We are called to take comfort that the Lord has our best interests in mind, despite what we’re going through, the thoughts we have about ourselves, or what is happening in the world around us.
We cannot be faithful without help
Here’s the deal. When our lives are devoted to Christ, we are precious sheep in the hands of a gracious Shepherd. But I believe we are also called to follow Christ’s example and be dedicated to God with the confidence of a lion or lioness. This cannot come from within ourselves alone. I think it is wise to get past the surface of “being true to ourselves.”
Instead, we can find an even deeper and more liberating love by being true and faithful to the One who knew our name before we were even conceived! He is perfect in love and faithfulness toward His children.
Unfortunately, struggles with what if’s are really hard and natural in humanity. Worry is part of our inherent sinful nature. However, I have found the discipline of turning to prayer during these times has helped me.
I struggle with anxiety and depression at times, and I have found it liberating to challenge my thoughts and ask myself what practical and faithful thinking truly looks like. We must be willing to practise active trust in the Lord, and know that it is He who ultimately provides.
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).