Have you ever faced a situation and made “if only” statements? You know, those things in life that make you think, man, if only that hadn’t happened … It’s easy to feel this way, but it’s so important we learn to get over regret from the past.
I’ve been through that in my own life—more than once, actually.
- If only I hadn’t been laid off from that job …
- If only that tornado hadn’t hit our house …
- If only my husband hadn’t had that accident …
The thing is, in each of these personal examples (and many others), I wasn’t seeing beyond that moment, that frustration, that pain. I wasn’t about to get over regret, I was drowning under it. I wasn’t watching for the final scenes, or the behind-the-scenes, of those circumstances. My perspective was stuck on what I thought I saw in front of me.
In John 11, Jesus gets a message that his friend Lazarus is sick. By the time he arrives, Lazarus has passed away, leaving his sisters Mary and Martha to grieve. Jesus has separate conversations with each of them, in which they both say, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:21, 32 NIV
Now, let’s back up to earlier in the story. When Jesus heard the news of Lazarus’ illness, he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” John 11:4 NLT
Wait—what? It will not end in death? From the perspective of Mary and Martha, it did end in death. That’s what led to the “if only” statements, right? Jesus knew something they didn’t. The sickness didn’t end in death because the story wasn’t over yet. The final scene was still to come. Lazarus was raised to life and the sickness didn’t end in death after all. The final scene was a miracle that reunited a family and showed people God’s power and love.
“When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.” John 11:43-44 NIV
God knew what He was doing then, and He knew what would come from my own “if only” moments. He used them in some amazing ways. Let me explain:
- If only I hadn’t been laid off from that job, I wouldn’t have been set on a path that led me to discover God’s unique calling on my life.
- If only that tornado hadn’t hit our house, we would not have been prompted to move and begin a new chapter for our family with new friends and a new career path for my husband.
- If only my husband hadn’t had that accident, we might not have experienced some significant healing in our marriage through his recovery.
Are you saying “if only” right now? What might God be about to do in your life that is being sparked by the very thing you’re saying “if only” about? It can be difficult to have faith when things are unclear. If you’re experiencing an “if only” moment right now, we’d love to pray for you to experience God’s peace and direction.