Being confident in God, even if …
Even if: two words that can change everything. A simple phrase that shifts perspectives, inverts stories, settles hearts, and releases life into the bleakest of situations.
Consider the words the apostle Paul penned to the people of Philippi while locked in a Roman prison:
“But even if I am poured out as a drink offering on the sacrificial service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you” (Philippians 2:17).
Paul was telling his spiritual sons and daughters that even if he languished in prison for the rest of his life, they could all be glad and rejoice.
Whaaaat? Why?? How in the world???
There was room to rejoice because Paul's pain had purpose. Divine, eternal purpose. God. Wastes. Nothing.
Christ was being magnified and the good news of salvation was spreading, even as Paul was chained to a wall.
Confinement doesn't constrain calling
Paul was physically confined but not spiritually constrained. This is the power of God.
“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually advanced the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is because I am in Christ” (Philippians 1:12).
Paul knew his purpose. The glory of Christ was Paul’s singular goal. His theology – his belief in God’s good character - formed the basis of his hope. Paul knew the tapestry that God was weaving was more intricate than his own limited perspective.
You may feel confined by your circumstances right now. In quarantine, in distance learning, in working from home or not getting to work at all, in uncertainty or grief or regret.
You may feel chained to a proverbial wall.
But your confinement doesn’t constrain your calling.
God can work in you and through you, right where you are.
Even if isn’t about giving in or giving up but looking up, outside of yourself and your situation and inside the throne room of heaven.
"In Him we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him" (Ephesians 3:12).
You can be confident in spite of that which is trying to confine or crush you, because the God of heaven died to free and help you.
"Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
We have confident access through faith in Him. He is with you this very moment. He has gone before you and will order your steps when you delight in Him (Deuteronomy 31:8, Psalm 37:23).
Pray as a victor, not a victim
Making peace with the even ifs will require praying in agreement with Jesus, “Not my will but Yours be done, Lord, on earth as it is in heaven” (Luke 22:42). This can be the most difficult yet the most liberating prayer a person could ever utter, because it brings our heart in alignment with God’s.
The prayer of surrender isn’t the prayer of a victim but of a victor who knows God’s will and way is always best.
What is your “even if” situation today?
Can you sincerely say, even if _____________ happens (or doesn’t happen), I will still hope in God? I will still trust in God? I will still rejoice in God?
In our fickle nature, we can forget that God is consistently faithful. When you remind yourself of God’s unchanging character, you can be confident in Him.
Even if the situation doesn’t change.
Even if that dream is dashed.
Even if I lose my job.
Even if I never marry.
Even if I get a divorce.
Even if I have to start over.
Even if I never have children.
Even if the relationship isn't mended.
Even if the thorn in my side remains.
Even if the cancer comes back.
Even if I lose a child, a spouse, a parent.
Even if justice isn’t served or the healing doesn’t come this side of heaven … I will still trust in You, Lord.
We don’t have to be anxious about our health, finances, friendships, family or future. We can say with confidence, “not my will but Yours be done,” because God’s will and way is better, richer and fuller than ours. But we do have to surrender to receive His peace.
The choice is yours
Even if is a critical cross road. Many take the wrong turn or stall out here, because they can’t accept God’s plan for their life. It feels too costly. Too out of control. Too disappointing.
But that which is most terrifying to us can be the most refining in us as we abide in Jesus.
Even if is about being rescued and reconciled by the sovereignty of God, amid the freefall of bad news and uncertainty, actively trusting that His way – while we may never understand it here on earth – is fundamentally better and higher than our way.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways. This is the Lord’s declaration. For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Accepting the even ifs of life requires us to release our grip on expectations and entitlements and open our hands to God's grace and goodness.
It requires us to walk humbly with God while believing that His faithful love will pursue us all the days of our lives – even in the dark and dreary middle (Micah 6:8, Psalm 23:6).
Even if is replacing “me with He,” letting go of my way in pursuit of His way.
Even if is agreeing that He must increase while I decrease (John 3:30). His plans over my plans. His way over my way. His timing over my timing.
“Then Jesus said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23, Matthew 10:38, 16:24, Mark 8:34).
We, “the crowd”, are called to give up our own way to follow the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). This invitation isn’t just for those in vocational ministry or the most devout of disciples. It is for “any of you” who wants to follow Jesus.
This invitation from Jesus to follow Jesus is inclusive and transformative. All are invited. No one is beyond reach.
When we lay our life down to pick up our cross and follow Jesus, it is only by supernatural strength. This is why God asks us to do it, because it can only be done by depending on Him. We must ask God for the Holy Spirit’s power to let go of our own preferences and take up His plan for our lives.
My cross will look different than your cross, but the destination will be the same: Jesus. Joy. The deep, abiding knowledge that He is enough.
Wrestling with our will
Yet even as we pray for His will to be done, we will wrestle with our own will – an inner battle waging war against our souls (Romans 7:14-21). We will doubt that His way is really best. Or - even when we know His way is best – we may still wish to have our way, because it was good enough, seemingly smoother, more comfortable and familiar.
But be encouraged. Jesus in His humanity wrestled too. In His omniscience, Jesus knew what was necessary. A sacrifice was needed. There was a debt to be paid. In His humanity, Jesus desperately wanted the cup of crucifixion to pass.
In the Garden of Gethsemene, His soul swallowed up in sorrow, Jesus prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:38-39).
And don’t we, too, want the hard things to just pass us by? The loneliness to pass us. The uncertainty to pass us. The difficult relationships and strife to pass us. The trial to pass us.
Let us pray to God for the strength to submit to the story He’s written for us, so that we can glorify Him by becoming more like Him.
God shapes us in setbacks and suffering
Paul's purpose was clear: “My goal is to know him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings…” (Philippians 3:10).
God shapes us in our setbacks and suffering.
He loves us too much to leave us as we are and He will not break the promise to bring us into completion, to the full measure of Christlikeness - and not an ounce less no matter how long or painful (Philippians 1:6).
“Even if He causes suffering, He will show compassion according to the abundance of His faithful love. For He does not enjoy bringing affliction of suffering on mankind” (Lamentations 3:32-33).
As we stay connected to Jesus in this broken world, we will bear fruit for the kingdom of heaven. We will be pruned to bear more fruit (John 15:2). And we will be pressed, like a fine wine being made to pour out for others (2 Corinthians 4:8).
Our story must be more about Christ and His Gospel than our comfort.
Getting there takes a lot of uncomfortable steps none of us would choose on our own. Because the truth is, the truth that saves us all, is Christ suffered for us.
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (I Peter 2:21).
This will likely frighten our flesh, but the great Comforter will soothe our spirits with His Spirit.
“So we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight … Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to him” (2 Corinthians 5:6-9).
Confident in Christ, not circumstance
Once we settle the even ifs in the deepest recesses of our hearts, we can rest in the assurance that everything will turn out the way that it should for those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
This doesn’t mean it won’t be painful, that there won’t be sacrifices and disappointments. It doesn’t mean we won’t worry or mourn our earthly losses. It means we can be confident in Christ, even when we don’t like or understand His way.
Even if the worst thing happens, God is good. He is love. He can still redeem the sorrow and bring new mercies every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).
We can be confident that Jesus is on the throne and His plans cannot be thwarted. We can be confident that in the end, when our life is really just beginning, God will have answered every prayer, more than we could ask for or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
So even if your prayer isn’t answered the way you prayed, or even if the worst thing you can imagine happens, you can be confident that God is still good and He is still in control. He will make all things right one day - in the blink of an eye.
"We are confident of the better things connected with salvation" (Hebrews 6:9).
Abide in Jesus today and be confident in Him - even if.