I’ve heard a lot of people say, “If only I knew then what I know now.”
A lot of times it’s when we reflect back to our teenage years when we made a lot of stupid mistakes; but sometimes people say this when their marriage is failing, their jobs are getting unbearable, or when their kids are acting up and they seem to have no control over them anymore.
To be perfectly honest we’ve all thought that at least once or twice, right? For me, I would have certainly done things a lot differently had I known what was coming up in the future!
But looking back in hindsight is not a good thing – because there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s done – finito. Instead we should be thinking about how our pasts are actually a prologue to where we are now. Because if we open our eyes in all honesty, we’ll see that the events that happened previously actually have molded and shaped us into who and what we are today.
On Thanksgiving a few years back I found myself thinking about the “if only” statement.
I was bummed out that day. In the week leading up to it, I had been focusing on what our lives could have been like if we still had all our children, instead of being glad and rejoicing as to all the good God had brought into in our lives since then.
Then that morning I read 2 Kings 4:8-37, about the Shummanite woman, and my mindset for a time went from bad to worse…
This is the account where the prophet Elisha visits with the Shummanite woman and her husband, and they end up providing a special room for him to use every time he passes through the area.
Elisha wants to do something to thank her. But what?
His servant Gehazi informs Elisha that she has no son, and her husband is old. So Elisha tells the woman that by next year she will hold a boy of her own.
It was too good to be true for the woman – her dream! But then as her child grew, one day he complains of pain in his head, and the next thing you know he dies.
She quickly has her servant fetch a donkey, and goes in search of Elisha. When she finds him she breaks down, feeling betrayed – why would she want a son just to have him die so soon? Why did Elisha do that to her?
Elisha goes back to the Shummanite’s home, enters the room where her dead son is lying, and lays down flat on top of him, praying that God would bring life back into his body.
God answers Elisha’s prayer (v. 32-35).
This is when I started playing the wicked “if only” mind games with myself.
Should I have done what Elisha did when I entered our son Matthew’s room that horrible morning and discovered he had died in his sleep? Should I have laid flat down on top of his body? Did I even pray that God would bring breath back into him?
Had I even prayed at all?
No, I had not. Instead I had started screaming for Gary.
So as I sat there after reading this passage of Scripture, the questions started:
“Should I have…?”
“Could I have…?”
“Would God have…?”
But here’s the thing, my friends – God doesn’t play these sick little mind games with us. We do it all by ourselves.
As I continued to sit there that morning, I suddenly realized that I needed a mental shift. Either I could have the whole day ruined because of “what ifs” or I could make it a day remembering the many blessings my Father has given me.
Psalm 118:24 (NIV) says: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.”
And, as I look at the events of my life, I can see how they have certainly shaped where I’m at now with my ministry. I think if you honestly look at your own life, you can probably say the same thing.
God’s plans are always perfect – no matter what we think.