Nameless and faceless, it silently intimidates me as I wrestle to maintain a sense of calm. I try to ignore it… then I focus all my attention on it… nothing seems to make it go away.
The battles of my daily life never feel as intense as when I am fighting “the unknown.” Awaiting news from the doctor to determine a diagnosis… moving… starting a new job… wondering how a disease will progress—so many circumstances in life leave us in the dark, uncertain of the details that we often crave.
I’m not sure how you typically respond when facing the unknown, but my brain generally wanders into the realm of “what-if”—wildly spinning with all the strange and scary things that might happen. As soon as what-if scenarios begin blossoming in my mind, I hurriedly pray, asking God to give me peace. I desperately want to trust Him and His perfect plans… but my sin nature is so tempted to turn to Google for answers instead
So, what does one do when pretending to be brave? How can we fight against something when we don’t even know what we are facing?
- Remember who fights the battle: When I cannot put a name or a face to the enemy robbing me of my peace, I can always name the One who authors peace. Ephesians 6:13 says, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” God does not call us to fight the battle—He calls us to readiness and then calls us to stand while He fights on our behalf. It is an amazing comfort to know that we are guaranteed ultimate victory in Christ (I Corinthians 15:50-58).
- Meditate on truth: I have found that it is impossible to simply remove thoughts without somehow replacing them. When I am trying not to focus on the “what-ifs,” I instead try to focus on Christ, His character, and His truth. I have index cards with favorite verses written on them that help me with Scripture memorization. I also love walking through the alphabet and identifying a characteristic or quality of God corresponding with each letter. Lord, you are abundant in your grace, you are beautiful in every way. Thank you for your caring concern and for delivering on your promises… This keeps my mind busy with the truth rather than obsessing over finding answers that do not yet exist.
- Seek accountability: All the what-ifs and unknowns seem to lose their power when I can get them outside my head and process them with other faithful believers. I have often asked my friends to pray for me and my struggle to trust God in the unknown. They do so gladly, and even take it a step further—checking in with me regularly to see how I’m doing and challenging me to spend equal (or more) time in God’s Word than I do searching for answers.
Even if I can’t find answers to all my questions and I am still in the dark, using these strategies help me rest in the Lord. When I submit to His plan and timing, I can breathe deeply knowing that I am safe in the arms of my Savior.
Ali Howard is a Baylor University graduate who has engaged in full-time, nonprofit work since 2011. She joined the Joni and Friends team in January 2015, and serves as the Senior Coordinator of Volunteer Services. She also acts as the content editor for the Irresistible Church blog and books.