“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”
2 Corinthians 9:8 NASB1995
More than twenty years ago, there was an event that deeply troubled me as a young Christian: a girl about my age was killed for her faith. After I heard the story, I was plagued by questions of whether I could endure a trial like the one she endured.
For many months the question haunted me, “If there was a gun to my head, would I deny the Lord?” And from time to time, throughout the years that followed, I would wonder, “What if…?” “Could I be a martyr for the Lord?”
God Appoints Daily Death
It wasn’t until much later, as I came into a knowledge of the truths of the new covenant, that the Lord shed a light into my heart. Once, when the question arose, He spoke a gentle, but clear answer: “That’s not how I’m asking you to die today.” He continued, “Please don’t misunderstand: I am certainly asking you to die. But not in that way.”
As Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily — die daily! — and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
This helped me see that the important question is not, “Could I die in that way (ie how the girl was killed), on that day (ie whenever it might happen in the future)?”, but rather, “Will I die in the manner the Lord is calling me to die, today?”
I had spent far too much of my life caught up in “What if’s”—things that might be appointed, someday—that I had been distracted from the crosses that the Lord had actually appointed for the day. And distracted in this way, I had been oblivious to how often I neglected my daily duty, the daily cross.
Do Not Worry
“Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with worry, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap.”
Luke 21:34 (paraphrase)
Such “What if?…” questions are just a glorified form of anxiety. When addressing the temptation to worry. Jesus said, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Matthew 6:34 NASB1995
It is a master tactic of the enemy to get Christians to neglect present responsibilities by fixating upon hypothetical possibilities. It’s as if it’s straight out of the Screwtape Letters. You could easily imagine Uncle Screwtape, a picture of a senior demon, advising a junior demon, “My dear Wormwood, don’t worry about this show of apparent devotion… So long as your man is concerned about whether he could be a martyr someday, he will fail to seek grace for the attacks you bring this day.”
Grace For What Is
“Your strength will equal your days...”
Deuteronomy 33:25b NIV
We sing reference to this scripture in the beloved hymn, “Day by Day.”
The Lord has encouraged me: “Don’t concern yourself with the barrel of the gun moment; if you are faithful in the trials I allow today—drawing grace from Me this day—then if, in my love and wisdom I see fit to allow the barrel of a gun into your life at some point in the future, I will give you the grace to be faithful to Me then, too.
“I don’t give grace for ‘what if?...’ I give grace for what is.”
Faithfully seeking God for grace for ‘what is,’ today, is the indispensable preparation for every imaginable ‘what if.’