Over the summer, I was driving down the road and I heard a grinding metal noise from underneath my car. Oh-oh. After a few seconds the noice went away, but the cha-ching sound of the coming car repair costs kept ringing in my mind.
Even before I knew what was happening, my mind started playing the nausea-inducing “what if” game:
What if the repairs costs more than I have to fix it?
What if I don’t have a car to drive for a long time?
What if I have to replace my car and I can’t find something affordable?
By the time I finished playing round one the “what if” game, I was driving down the road near tears. My imagination took a little problem and blew it up and out of control. All I really knew what that a small noise was coming from my car, but I let my mind turn it into a disaster.
If you’ve ever played the “what if” game, you know that it begins with any kind of fear. It could be anything from a lump under our skin, an announcement of layoffs at the office, mysterious phone numbers on spouse’s phone. Any one of those fears feels like a threat to our safety or our unhappiness. But, if we don’t address those fears, those fears will develop new fears. In fact, in my Winning the Worry Battle book, I say it like this:
The fear of our fear is our worry.
In my situation, one car noise became a single fear that I allowed to multiply into lots of different fears in my mind. When our minds are overwhelmed by fear, we’re guaranteed to be miserable!
My friend, God doesn’t want you to be miserable. He promises you power, love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7) – all of those beautiful things are the opposite of fear.
Perhaps this is why the Bible has so many verses that include the phrases, do not fear and do not be afraid. In fact, some estimate that there are over 300 verses, depending on the translation about not being afraid. Here’s one of my favorites that I’ve leaned on so much in the past year.
“This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 NLT
When you look at this verse notice that God isn’t telling us that there is nothing to be afraid of in life. In fact, God knows that there will be times of great fear, but we don’t have to live afraid because God’s presence is with us.
We can live courageously in challenging situations because God is with us and for us in every circumstance.
So, when I hear a noise in my car and my mind wants to play the “what if “ game, the lesson I’m learning is that I don’t have to play that game.
Instead, I can pray, “God, I know that You hear that noise in my car. Instead of worrying about what it might be or if I can pay for it, I will trust that You will help me handle whatever it is.”
Is there a “what if” game that you need to stop playing today? Let’s face it, there are no winners in the “what if” game, only stress and tears. Here’s a practical idea that you can consider: Grab a sheet of paper or notecard and write down five do not be afraid verses that you can post by your bathroom mirror. Read those verses each morning. Then, the next time fear tries to get you to play the “what if” game, God’s promises will show up and push back your fears. Imagine boldly looking your fears in the face and proclaiming: “God’s already given me victory. Fear, I don’t have to play your game.”