How often we turn a healthy hope into an if-only feeling of despair and frustration: “If only my beloved would do this or remember that or change in the way I see needs changing.”
“If only” gets us into trouble or else disappoints. It’s rooted in our desire to be in control, and often for very good reasons. We think we know (and indeed we might be very knowledgeable about it) what’s best, and from this basis we wish for the best.
This is different than hoping for the best. Hope is based on God’s promises, especially when we know what his promises are. Hope is rooted in God’s radical love for us. And from this basis, we give up control and we entrust the matter to God.
This puts us in a much better stance when we speak to our beloved about what we hope will change. Our “if only” loses the demanding attitude that closes our beloved’s mind to what we’re trying to express. God’s love comes through instead. We willingly exchange ideas with our beloved on the issue that’s been bothering us. It’s much more productive.
And if we pray about it as a couple, or if we at least add the “if only” to our daily prayers and trust God for the timing and the how of it, we discover that God’s love never fails. One way or another, God’s love brings us peace and hope and true progress.
- What “if only” have I been thinking about lately? How much have I been entrusting it to God?
- What “if only” does my beloved have about me? How do I feel knowing this?
Strengthen your relationship:
Privately list your if-only wishes. Next, write a prayer that places into God’s hands and his wisdom and his love each “if only” — a prayer that can be used for any situation that arises. Then share your prayers with each other; take turns reading them aloud. Afterward, explain how these prayers made you feel.
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© 2017 by Terry Modica of Good News Ministries
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