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If Onlys and What Ifs

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider the futility of worry.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and two helpers – preferably a boy and a girl – to be If Only and What If. Prepare them by running through the script in the ‘Assembly’ below. 


Leader Stand in the middle with your helpers standing apart, one on each side. They should appear anxious and worried when they speak.

Leader Once upon a time, there were two friends – If Only and What If. They were both worriers. If Only spent her time worrying about the past, while What If spent his time worrying about the future. Their days would go something like this.

If Only I wish I hadn’t told her that. I wish I hadn’t chosen that dress. If only I had prepared more for that test. If only Mum and Dad would see things my way!

What If What if they don’t like my new trainers? What If they don’t want to come to the party? What if I don’t make the grade? What if I get spots, too?!

Leader They were so busy worrying about the past and the future that they never really enjoyed the present. If Only would say to her friend  . . .

If Only (Turns to What If.) What’s the point of worrying about the future? It might never happen.

Leader What If would say to his friend  . . .

What If (Turns to If Only.) What’s the point of worrying about the past? What’s done is done. There is nothing you can do to change it now.

Leader So, which child worried about the past and which one worried about the future?

Do you know anyone like that? Any If Onlys, any What Ifs? There are probably many sitting right here today. It is a common problem among adults and children.

The people who came to speak to Jesus were worriers, too. They worried about what they were going to eat and what they were going to drink and what they were going to wear.

He said, ‘Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?’ (Matthew 6.27). Another time he told his disciples, ‘So do not worry about tomorrow’ (Matthew 6.34).

Jesus didn’t say, ‘Stop worrying!’ It isn’t very helpful when people say that to us! Instead, Jesus gave a reason for not worrying. His message, essentially, was, ‘Don’t worry because I am your friend. I am with you and if you ask me I will always help you.’

Time for reflection

What do you worry about? Has worrying ever made things better?

We have many people around us we can share our worries with. Who might you talk to when you are worried?

Dear God, 
We pray for those who are worried about things today. 
We pray for those who are worried about things that have happened in the past and for those who are worried about what might happen in the future. 
We ask that you be their friend and help them. 
We pray also that you will help us to be good, kind friends to those who are worrying today. 


‘Peace, perfect peace, is the gift of Christ our Lord’ (Come and Praise, 53)

Publication date: December 2014   (Vol.16 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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