A couple of weeks ago, I had a routine medical test done. The next day, I received a voicemail asking me to call back regarding the test. My heart sank because that’s never a good sign. No one leaves bad news on a voicemail; they always ask you to call back. When I returned the call, the woman told me that the results were slightly questionable and that I needed to schedule for the test to be redone. She assured me that this happens often and that things were most likely fine; however, being human—and a natural worrywart—I wasn’t reassured and immediately started freaking out.
The retest was scheduled for a week-and-a-half out, which, for a worrier, equates to about an eon. Luckily, later that day, I got another call saying that there’d been a cancellation for the following afternoon—which meant I only had to worry for 24 hours instead of about 200!
Last month, I blogged about my new venture into Bible journaling, and coincidentally (or not), when I got the voicemail, I was in the middle of my Bible journaling small group. Each week, I give the women in the group a list of verses on a specific topic, and that week’s topic happened to be peace. I don’t have a specific reason for the topics I choose other than them being topics that I believe everyone can relate to and that I can find a lot of verses about. I had prepared these verses two weeks ahead of time, but God knew that on this specific day, I was going to need peace and that I needed to find it in Him.
I mentioned in my previous post how journaling has helped me both memorize God’s Word and worship Him more. When I got the first call, I was literally journaling Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (NIV). Even though I was freaking out, I could feel that the Lord was showing me that I needed to dwell on HIM and not on the iffy test results or the upcoming retest or the downward spiraling path of worrisome thoughts that my mind kept leading me down.
I kept reading the verse over and over as I wrote it out and colored it in, focusing on the words “perfect peace,” “steadfast mind,” and “trust in you.” I knew that I had to keep my mind steadfast on the Lord—trusting that He had a plan and that He would see me through this—and if I did those things, He would grant me peace in my heart, no matter the outcome of the upcoming test.
I also kept coming back to another verse I had journaled about a month earlier. The third chapter of Daniel tells one of my absolute favorite Bible stories—that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who refused to worship the statue of King Nebuchadnezzar, even though they knew that their refusal would result in their painful deaths in a blazing furnace. They continued to worship only the Lord, saying, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18, NLT, emphasis mine).
Even if. Those two words struck me a month ago when I journaled this passage, and they hit me again in the 24 hours I had to wait to have the test redone. I decided I would trust the Lord even if….
Unfortunately, though, even if began to be pushed aside by its sneaky, and damaging, cousin, “What if…?” What if the test results don’t turn out fine? What if they do show devastating news, even though the gal on the phone said they probably wouldn’t? What if I have a potentially long and painful journey ahead? What if my biggest fears come true?
I went in the next day for the test, nervous and scared. The what ifs were still there, but I had consciously decided to let the even ifs prevail. Even if the test results showed something harmful, I would still serve the same Lord I serve today. Even if I ended up having to endure more testing and painful procedures, I would still worship Him. Even if my kids ended up with a sick mom, I would still show them how to praise through the pain.
You see, what if doesn’t trust the Lord, but even if does. What if tries to take control from God; it says that we know more than He does. Even if says that no matter the circumstances, God is still on His throne, He knows infinitely more than we do, and He is in control. Even if the worst possible thing happens, He is God, and He is worthy of our trust.
Shadrach and his friends saw this firsthand. The worst possible thing did happen to them—they were thrown into the furnace. But God showed up in a huge way. If you don’t know the end of the story, go read Daniel 3, but (*SPOILER ALERT*) God met them there—IN the fire—and they came out unscathed. Shadrach, et al., didn’t know for sure that the Lord would save them, but they knew that He could save them. They trusted that He would, but they also trusted Him…even if He didn’t.
Even if keeps your mind steadfast on the Almighty. It keeps you trusting in the One and Only, and it keeps you in perfect peace, even if the circumstances around you are anything but peaceful. As a former English major and total grammar nerd, it comes down to semantics and punctuation for me. What if ends in a question mark; the ending is uncertain, but we try to fill it in ourselves. Even if is followed by a comma; there’s a pause that allows God to write the ending. And regardless of whether that ending is good or bad, it trusts God to be God.
Thankfully, in my case, things went exactly as the woman on the phone had predicted, and I ended up with a clean bill of health. I may have made it through this situation with the what ifs (and even the even ifs) never materializing, but I know that things won’t always be peaches and roses. Illness, death, financial problems, heartache, disappointment, unfortunate circumstances—they are all a part of life, and they will come at one time or another. We just have to decide with which “IF” we will face them: WHAT or EVEN? I know from this experience that it’s not easy, but I hope that when the next problem arises, I can confidently say, “I will serve Him, love Him, worship Him, praise Him…EVEN IF.”
I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand,
But even if You don’t,
My hope is You alone.
I know the sorrow, I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word,
But even if You don’t,
My hope is You alone.
– “Even If,” MercyMe