“But God,being rich in mercy … made us alive together with Christ …” (Ephesians 2:4, ESV).
I love the phrase “but God.” I say “but God” all through the day. I say it when I lack confidence at work. I say it when I am dismayed about my poor memory. I say it when Satan reminds me of past folly. I speak it to irreversible consequences of past sins. I say it when my children are scarce. I say it about those of my children who are presently far from God. I say it when my husband is ill. I say it when finances are bad. I say it when I have sinned again and feel disqualified from the kingdom of God. I say it when a situation seems impossible.
“But God” is one of the most wonderful phrases in the Bible. It trumps everything. Paint me the worst scenario you can think of. Make it 10-pages long if you want to. But when you have done your best work, say aloud, “but God.” “But God” is big enough to nullify it all.
I know a couple who got married with a raft of negatives against them from the get-go. He was an ex-con with a sex offense and three children. She was a divorcee with four children. During courtship he had not leveled with her about all of his past. Neighbors passed flyers around the neighborhood alerting people to his rap sheet. The kids hated him and played dirty tricks on him. I observed the situation with horror and thought to myself, “Wow, it stinks to be them.”
But over time I observed something else. She made up her mind to love him. He praises God all day long. Things started turning, ever so gradually. He got good jobs with his skilled hands, and gained the respect of outsiders. People began to seek him out for his services. He persisted in loving the children, and they came around, one by one. In all their struggles, this couple learned to say, “But God”—and persevered.
My heart was instructed—and ashamed. I saw that God loves to raise up those who trust Him in impossible situations, no matter how they have gotten themselves in a jam. And He loves to confound those who say, “Aha! They are ruined beyond help”:
“… O LORD, make haste to help me! Let those be put to shame and disappointed … and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt! Let those be appalled because of their shame who say to me, ‘Aha, Aha!’ But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, ‘Great is the LORD” (Psalm 40:13–16, ESV).
No matter what is going on in your life, no matter what you have done, no matter how bleak things seem, no matter that it’s all your fault, learn to say, “But God …”