It’s March Madness (a term given to the time when the NCAA tournament is about to happen and then starts) and I’m a big college sports fan, especially of basketball and football. My favorite team is the Iowa Hawkeyes and this year they missed the tournament by 1 win–just one basket. One game was especially heartbreaking because the outcome was determined by a single bucket. All of that means I love to prognosticate, pontificate and plain old score watch! I read message boards. I talk to some of my family in Iowa. But most of all, especially this year, with typical fan enthusiasm I wondered “what if.”
Do you ever have those same kind of questions about your life? Maybe you wonder “what if I had just done a bit better at work then I wouldn’t have lost my job.” Maybe you think “I should have loved my daughter just a bit more, spent a bit more time with my son.” Just a little bit more! I imagine on the night Jesus was betrayed the disciples had a couple of “what ifs” and “should haves.” I’m sure the apostle Paul had a few deep and dark nights thinking about the possibilities for the lives he systematically snuffed out during his persecution of the church in the early parts of his life. After selling Joseph, Judah surely slept less and was haunted every time he saw a well.
But God. Jesus rose from the dead. Paul repented. Joseph became 2nd in command of all Egypt. We have hope.
“I am grateful to the one who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me faithful in putting me into ministry, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I was treated with mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief, and our Lord’s grace was abundant, bringing faith and love in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” – and I am the worst of them! But here is why I was treated with mercy: so that in me as the worst, Christ Jesus could demonstrate his utmost patience, as an example for those who are going to believe in him for eternal life. Now to the eternal king, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever! Amen” (1 Timothy 1:12-17).
You know, I think one beautiful and trustworthy thing about our Great God is that He owns all the “What ifs” and “Could haves.” There is still a wondering but there is no doubt about the outcome. We may still ask “what if” we had done something different but we can trust in God for the outcome. There is not the sickening feeling of regret knowing that the chance for redemption, love or hope is over. Not with our God.