It Is 'WHEN', Not 'If'

The language used in communication is very critical. We can all attest to the fact that in a given sentence, change of one key word may totally change the meaning of the sentence. In such a case scenario, you would agree that the two words in question would semantically (i.e. with regards to meaning) not be interchangeable.


Let us consider two words we see and use quite often – the words “if” and “when”. The word “if” in a sentence is usually with reference to conditionality and therefore implies a probability. For example, you may ask a friend to proceed with an agreed course of action if they do not hear back from you. In such a case, it means they may or may not hear from you. But consider a scenario where you ask the friend to proceed when they get a text message from you with a thumbs-up emoji.

In this latter case, with the use of the word “when” it is categorically clear that they will hear from you and should only proceed at that time. While “if” refers to the probability of an occurrence, “when” speaks to the certainty of an occurrence.

In the scriptures, there are instances where the word “when” is used. Some of the things that follow thereafter are not exactly pleasant. But it is imperative that we take cognizance of this and prepare accordingly because these are things that are sure to happen. God has not promised us a life without any stress and if you’ve been told that, know now that it’s a lie from the father of lies (the devil). We are emphatically told in the Bible that trials will come - challenges that stretch us and pressures that test our faith. And how do we know this? Well, because it reads “when . . .”. However we have an assurance that when they do come, we overcome!


In a nutshell: Trials, storms of life, challenges, pressures and trying times are not optional for the Christian. The word of God does not say “if”. As long as you profess Christ and heed the word of God, there will be times that the storms of life will rage. There is a “when” and we must prepare accordingly, knowing that these will come. We prepare by building up our faith beforehand and then we are not afraid to face these things because we also know that these too will pass.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. 3 “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior . . . [Isaiah 43:2 – 3b; Amplified].
2. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3. knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.[James 1:2 – 3; NKJV]
For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. [Matthew 13:21b; NKJV]

To do: Let us make the word of God an anchor for our soul knowing that surely the storms of life will come. Daily meditate on and internalize His word so that WHEN the storms do come, you will have an anchor that holds.

Olihe Okoro
Author: Olihe Okoro
Olihe Okoro is a teacher and writer. She loves God's word and believes wholly in it as the road map for effective Christian living. She is happily married and the mother of three beautiful children.
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