So there is this simple thought I’ve been mulling over for a while now. It is one of those things I find myself contemplating quite often. As I ponder its implications this morning, I’m quite certain it will not strike everyone as profoundly insightful, yet I think it might offer all of us a sense of hope. Perhaps it might even serve as an encouragement as we enter the new week. The simple thought I can’t seem to escape here lately is this: We just may not know… Now let me spend the next few paragraphs explaining what I mean.
Sometimes it seems we are only privy to the bad news. I know this isn’t the case but it sure feels that way at times. We often hear of a tragic accident or incident and find our hearts and minds immediately flooded with thoughts of regret. We participate in that which has yet to produce a single winner, though it has defeated many of folk. We play the dreaded “What if?” game. “What if we had done something different? What if we had said something? What if we had been more available? What if we hadn’t (fill in the blank)...? What if?
The problem with the “What if?” game is that we just can’t know the outcome to such scenarios. It is perfectly normal to go to that place of thinking, but since there is no way of going back in time, staying there can become futile and even harmful. It is for this reason that I’d like to suggest a different way of looking at our day-to-day interactions. Often it seems that we must wait to see the fruit of our labor. We invest in people and relationships, and the like, only to wait and see what may come of such intentional deposits. So as we are inundated with stories of heartache and “failure”, we just patiently long for a time that we can see what our efforts and strivings have wrought.
Well, what if our attitudes and behaviors are actually more impactful than we realize? What if we are actively preventing tragedies and heartaches and hurt each day we follow after our Savior and pursue loving one another as He commanded? Consider each time we acknowledge a stranger as a fellow image-bearer of God. Each time we look them in the eye and graciously esteem them as valuable, we may be doing more good than we ever know. Our phone call to check-up in on a buddy, may offer encouragement for him to hang in there a bit longer. We may be giving a sense of belonging and hope that saves a marriage. We might be the ones that spur others to keep the faith, simply by following-up with someone we’ve been praying for. We may be a conduit of comfort that literally keeps one from stepping off the ledge. As a parent, think of what we are doing when we follow through with discipline. We may keep our child from playing in the street and safe from physical harm. Just as importantly, we may be instilling the truth and values that save our children from poisonous relationships and unhealthy ways of seeing themselves. Yes, our influence may be far greater than we ever imagined.
I take none of this lightly. It is a serious thing to facilitate thoughts of life and death and tragedy and all that is between. When tough times strike, we are often prone to blame ourselves. It is in such times one must trust that God is bigger and His understanding is greater. We are forced to rely on Him in those seasons. And if that is indeed what we find, perhaps we ought to look to Him today as well. Just maybe this Monday’s absence of such trials is a reminder of God’s goodness and grace extended to us. Maybe there is more that meets the eye – far more than we can see. Perhaps our faithfulness is invited to team with His divine purposes to not only save lives and avoid suffering, but just maybe, to also impact souls for eternity. There is a way of living in the hope of Christ that constantly keeps the big picture in mind. Today offers us a unique opportunity to make an impact for His kingdom. The specifics of how deep this will go and how it will take place and what it will look like exactly, well, those are facts that we just may not know…