We do what-if thinking so very well. We can’t just stop thinking this way; our what-ifs must be replaced by something even stronger—and the good news is that we have that in the gospel of Jesus. Look at it this way: What-if thinking consists of possibilities. It makes sense to replace possibilities with something that is for sure, always factual—the person of a Creator God.
Creativity—and imagination. Humans are blessed with these things by their Creator. It’s part of the image of God in us. He, after all, is endlessly creative.
The trouble is that our creativity, like all other good things he has given, is twisted by our fallenness; we’re very good at misusing it.
Consider our tendency to imagine the future. There’s a place for planning and organizing, but “thinking ahead” can simply mean manufacturing negative what-ifs. It can become a constant habit of borrowing trouble; it can be the incubator of false assumptions, worry, and despair. We often readily adopt those what-ifs as real possibilities, which soon develop into probabilities. Before we know it, we’re imagining them as prophecies. . . and soon, in our mind’s eye, they’re facts!
This negatively creative mindset can become our regular context of thinking and cause us to progressively doubt much of what God has told us in his Word.
It’s incredibly easy to wander into the fearsome Land of What-If and live there.
Why Is What-If Thinking So Easy?
Parents and families of sexual strugglers may ask:
- What if my son marries his partner?
- What if I’m the only one in the family who says this is wrong?
- What if my daughter decides to do hormones or surgery?
- What if the people at church shut us out because our son is gay?
- What if my daughter tells the grandchildren that Uncle Jim is now Aunt Jane?
- What if my son stops all communication with me because I accept Scripture?
- What if my daughter’s new “friends” lead her into drugs, or worse?
- What if this all goes on for years . . . and years?
We’re capable of filling our thinking with awful possibilities. But to what end? Why do we do that, especially when we don’t (and can’t) exist in the future?