"What If?"

Today, our son, Jake, walked away from what could have been a tragic accident, rolling his Ford Escape trying to avoid a turning vehicle on the highway. No serious injuries. Jake is a little shaken and sore, but he will be good as new in a few days. Thank God for seat belts. No one else was involved or injured. No fire. No "jaws of life." No helicopter. Just a ride to the ER and a good going over from the doctor and nurses who kept assuring Jake, "You are one lucky young man." Indeed he is, if luck has anything to do with it.

It's no fun being a long distance parent in such situations. Frantic phone calls, trying to get the details, poor phone service, scrambling for insurance information, "I think my wallet is still in the Escape." Thank God that Jake has lots of family nearby, Uncle Clif to the rescue with Jerry and Becca standing by.

All evening I've been playing that nightmarish game called, "What if?" I guess we just can't help it in these situations. What if our son had been hurt, injured, disabled, or even killed? What if he had hit someone, hurt someone, even killed someone? How would Jake live with that? Terrible, wrenching "What ifs" keep creeping up in my mind, and what makes it worse is the fact that I know how these things go. As a pastor of more than thirty years, I know the score. Some young men do not walk away. Some kids cannot call their mom and dad to assure them that they are okay. I have been in those emergency rooms when there was nothing the doctors could do. And I have tried to speak words of comfort to those who have suffered great loss.

So, perhaps this is the source of much of our fear and anxiety, that haunting question, "What if?" Too many of us live in a state of low grade fearfulness, a simmering worry that is always stirring down deep. We feel it for our families, our finances, our futures. This fragile thing called life is just too easily damaged, too vulnerable to pain, too prone to disaster, and too soon past. And so the question echoes in our fretful hearts . . . what if? what if? what if?

Much to our surprise and relief, biblical faith does not seem preoccupied with the "What ifs" of life. God steps into this uncertain and unpredictable world and says, "Fear not!" Over and over again, from cover to cover, hundreds of times we are reminded and even commanded, "Fear not!" Notice how God's response to the question mark is His own exclamation, loud and clear. Get this. 'Fear not!" In every circumstance, in fire and flood and famine, in wilderness and wartime, in battle and bloodshed, in plague and pestilence - "Fear not!"And when the risen Christ returns to His bleary-eyed followers, His first words - "Fear not!"

In Christ you and I have been given a faith that really can stand up to the dreaded unknowns of life and death with great confidence and hope. God knows, all kinds of things happen to all kinds of people, but He will never turn loose of us, never forsake His own, never fail to care for His children.

This evening I am giving thanks to the God who is God over all this fragile, broken world, the One who is faithful and loving in our joy and in our tears, in our triumphs and in our tragedies And though I am a dad with children far beyond my reach or protection, I will try to trust and do my best to "Fear not!" No more "What ifs" for me.


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