One of the most powerful phrases in the English language is, “what if…” These words can easily tempt people into dedicating their whole lives to them. I truly did not understand the power of these words until my twin brother’s ashes landed on my doorstep. Grief encouraged me to deny reality, bitterly place blame, and escape to every alternative truth in my mind. “What if…” can also become one of the most powerful distractions from God in the present.
Essentially these words can rob of us our present and righteous moments because they warp our perspective of reality. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” God wants us to focus on these sentiments because this is a way from escaping the temptations and sin that result from pondering, “what if…” When my brother Daniel died from his brain aneurysm in 2020, I couldn’t help but want to dwell on, “what if” questions. Such questions like: What if he had gone to hospital for his headache the night before? What if he had lived a different life style? What if he had done this or that? The fact that my intense emotions were stirring up these questions wasn’t the potential issue. The problem would have occurred if I had not confronted these emotions by leaning on God and those He lovingly put into my life to help me.
Turning to God directly and having His love shine through those close to me helped me realize that dwelling on what could have been would only lead me down a path of depression and bitterness. Daniel, the doctor’s monitoring his condition in Houston, the EMT crew, and even God were not to blame for Daniel’s death. They all were doing their best to make sure Daniel lived a healthy life. Also, if I want to move on from his death and choose to have joy, then I should be focusing on Daniel’s spirit and eternal life instead of his physical death. 1 John 5:13-15 reads, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” When Daniel died I prayed for God to have mercy on his soul. God gives me the hope to know that He took my prayer about Daniel into His loving hands.
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 says, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” God blessed me with Daniel’s loving influence in my life. The good characteristics of my brother can be carried out through me, especially as I live for God. My brother loved drawing and every time I draw to encourage a sister or brother in Christ I get to share a bit of Dan. God granted me the way of escaping the temptations experienced during grief by helping have a higher perspective, instead of merely a positive one (Proverbs 3:5). Rather than focusing on the physicality of death, God grants me the ability to see how I can carry on Dan’s loving spirit by focusing on Him and others. By abiding in God we can strive forward with confidence and joy, even amidst some of our lowest moments in life. When you are going to meet your true Father in Heaven, do you want to be thinking of all the “what ifs” or of all the moments you chose to say, “with God I did”?