We like dreaming of possibilities. We also like imagining what might have been.
That’s not necessarily wrong but when coupled with unbelief, it could be dangerous.
While the Israelites were in the desert and arrived at Kadesh, there was no water to be found in the area. As a result, the people grumbled and complained against Moses saying, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this desert, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!” (Numbers 20:3-5)
The “if only” syndrome usually strikes at a moment of difficulty. We don’t even realize it but it hits us suddenly.
“If only I went to the doctor sooner, then I wouldn’t be in this shape now.”
“If only he stayed in the office, this accident wouldn’t have happened.”
“If only I went to that school, then my life would be better.”
“If only she said yes to him, it would’ve been a perfect story.”
I slipped into this when my mom got very sick. She was very ill and the doctors in Manila for some reason couldn’t figure out what she was suffering from. After 5 months in the hospital with doctors attending who were from 3 hospitals, we had to fly her out to The Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. They were able to diagnose her Hodgkin’s lymphoma in a mere couple of days. But because her body was so weak and suffered multiple organ failure, she went to be with the Lord not long after the doctors discovered what was really wrong.
Every so often, I’d slip into the “if-only-syndrome”.
“If only we brought her to Mayo Clinic right away, she may still be alive today and would’ve enjoyed her grand children.”
But that’s not what happened. I often asked myself how come we didn’t. I don’t know why and I have no answer. Sometimes, it results in beating myself up on what could’ve been.
But it helps me not one bit.
When trouble hits, rather than falling into the “if-only-syndrome”, doing what Moses and Aaron did would be a better option…
“Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown…” (Numbers 20:6)
What happened next?
“The glory of the Lord appeared.” (Numbers 20:6b)
How many times have we missed the glory of the Lord from appearing just because we slipped into the “if-only-syndrome?”
Lord, help us to zip our mouths and run into your presence. And just maybe, as your presence comes into our circumstances, we realize that You are so in charge that we don’t even need to worry.
In Jesus’ name. AMEN.