If Only…

We are so ungrateful and full of complaints. “If only I had married that person, if only I had stuck it out in that job, if only I could win the lottery/PCH Sweepstakes, if only, if only, if only…..”

  “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.” – Exodus 16:3 NLT (http://bible.com/116/exo.16.3.NLT)
Looking back at history, we know the Israelites life in Egypt was anything but easy. For the most part, they were slaves and did hard labor with little or no rewards, but as they struggled through the wilderness following Moses and Aaron they forgot the reality of their lives in Egypt. They focused instead on the “if only” and what they no longer had, instead of their freedom and blessings of God. 

  “And as Aaron spoke to the whole community of Israel, they looked out toward the wilderness. There they could see the awesome glory of the Lord in the cloud.” – Exodus 16:10 NLT (http://bible.com/116/exo.16.10.NLT)

I could easily spend the rest of my life moaning about the “if only’s” and the “what if’s,” but what would I gain? Complaining about what could/should/would have been does one thing: it makes me miserable. Maybe if I had stayed married instead of tucking tail and running from responsibility, I would be more financially prepared for the future….and maybe not. Maybe if I had stayed at my first “real” instead of quitting over office politics, life would be different. Actually, my life would be nothing like it is now. Would it take be better? Would I be more financially prepared for the future? Would my health be better? Would my life be better?

The only thing that is assured from all that wondering is that my life would be different. Maybe better; maybe worse, but definitely different. The thing about life is that it shapes us into what we are. Our faith in God shapes us into who we are. Why spend my life wondering and wishing for a life that has already happened? I am who I am, and I am what I am, and I am where I am purely through my own choices. I realize that many people, through abuse or human trafficking, don’t have all of the choices most of us have. Their lives are not theirs to make many choices, and my heart and soul cry out to God to rescue them. Because the world currently belongs to the enemy, bad things will continue to happen. (I can’t wait to see him – the enemy, aka Satan – get what he deserves when Jesus returns!) 

Today, Instead of focusing on the “if only’s,” work on focusing on a blessing instead. I know first-hand how difficult it can be when your life is in flames around you. God provided meat and bread to the Israelites in the wilderness when they were hungry and had no resources. He saved Daniel from being mauled and eaten when he was thrown into a pit full of hungry wild lions. He walked through the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. (See Daniel chapters 3 and 6.) He has saved countless people from physical harm, and he has allowed countless saints to be mistreated, tortured, and brutally murdered. “If only” God had saved them; “if only” He would heal all of the hurting….

He will, no doubt about it! It may not be in my lifetime or yours, but He will prevail over the evil in this world – in His time. I challenge you to find  something in your life to be grateful for today; something that you wouldn’t have if your “if only’s” had come to pass. 

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