“But Mom! That’s not fair!”, “But Dad! Mom said I could!”, “But why? I don’t deserve this!” Sound familiar? How about, “But God? Why did this happen? Why did I lose my job? Why did my friend have to die? Why can’t I have a lot of money? Why do I have to go through this trial?” And so on and so on. We’ve all been there….at least, I’m pretty sure we have. If you have never ~ like, ever! ~ found yourself questioning God on any aspect of your life that didn’t seem fair, please tell me how you do it.
In recent bible studies and scripture reading, I have come across a phrase that I’ve probably seen a bunch of times before, but it is hit me freshly in the past few months. I know I’ve said it before (and I did in my bible study group this morning!), I absolutely and thoroughly LOVE that God will shine a light on a passage of His Word in a new and impactful way because of what He wants to teach me in that specific moment. God’s Word never changes, but we do and when we get closer to Him and are careful enough to study His Word, we can see things in a brand new way that we never did before. God’s Word is alive and well people! It ain’t going anywhere!!
So, what’s the phrase?
These two words are used congruently in the Bible about 35 times. And I made sure to read all of them so that I would be beyond certain of what I share with you today.
In each of these circumstances, God was either giving a promise, giving a warning, or giving a way out. But God. The word ‘but’ is a conjunction, but can be used as a preposition, an adverb, a noun, or an idiom. The definition found in dictionary.com says: on the contrary; yet; except; save; unless; if not; except that (followed by a clause, often with that expressed); without the circumstance that; otherwise than; who not; that not.
So these verses can be described by saying: yet God, except God, save God, unless God, if not God, who not than God. God’s Word never wastes a letter, even a three letter word, ‘but,’ can describe a wealth of emotion in the circumstance.
2 Chronicles 20:15 “and he said, “Listen carefully, all Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat. This is what the Lord says: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast number, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever.”
Ephesians 2:4 “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us,”
These verses bring joy to my heart in knowing that God is for me! I do not have to be afraid of the world and what is in it, but I do need to be aware of what is in the world and what is going on in the spiritual realm so that I can be protected. As you just read in Job 28:38, God knows where His wisdom is kept and He knows how to impart that wisdom to us. God always provides a way out of a difficult situation. But what happens when we feel God isn’t being fair?
One of the things I’ve said to my girls in the past (that they don’t particularly enjoy) is when I hear them say, “But that’s not fair!” I respond with “Fair? Fair is a place where you can ride a Ferris wheel and eat funnel cake.” I laugh…they usually do not. For the most part, it stops the complaint from going farther. One of the hardest parts of having my three lovely girls, is when they feel one sister is getting something that they aren’t. How many times have I had the conversation with one of them about how the big sister gets to have this certain privilege and you don’t…because you are 9 and they are 15. Six years doesn’t seem to be a huge age gap, but it is. And it doesn’t seem fair. When the 15 year-old was 9, they had the same rules, but the current 9 year-old doesn’t remember that because said 9 year-old was THREE! I guess in a way, we were riding a Ferris wheel!
So when we feel life isn’t being fair, where to we go? We can run to the everlasting arms of Jesus and He will absolutely comfort us. We can have strength from the Lord as only He can give and learn to be satisfied with what is going on in our life. It is definitely a learning process to be content and satisfied. If we could come by contentedness easily, we wouldn’t need the Lord. We wouldn’t need to rely on anyone but ourselves. Then we ultimately wouldn’t need a Savior. How sad is that thought.
There is nothing that we can summon up within ourselves, all by ourselves, that will truly amount to anything. The gifts and talents we have, have been given to us by the Lord. We have a choice what we are going to do with them, but unless we submit those choices to the Lord, disappointment will be around every corner. Again…and cautiously I say…submitting our will to the Lord and being obedient to the call He has on our life, does not guarantee a blissful life free of problems. I know I’ve written on this idea before, but I think it bears repeating simply because it’s something we deal with often. Sometimes we deal with it on a daily basis. Well, I do at least…and I bet I’m not alone here. I get caught up in running off down a path that I’m sure will be pleasing to the Lord ~ I’ve prayed about it, I’ve received counsel from others that I trust, all the pieces seem to be coming together ~ and then I ask God to join me on my journey. Did you catch that? “My journey.” This is completely backwards. I truly may be taking correct steps forward, but unless I submit that desire and choice to the Lord, I’ll end walking on the edge of the path God has for me, instead of right smack down the center of the path where He is leading me. I need to join God on His journey that He has planned for me.
There are also several occasions in scripture where we see that God has had to discipline His people because they have walked off the proverbial path.
Romans 11:22 “Therefore, consider God’s kindness and severity: severity toward those who have fallen but God’s kindness toward you—if you remain in His kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.”
This verbiage may surprise you…that God can be described as kind and as severe in the same sentence. But He is. His kindness went so far as to create a plan where Jesus His Son, would come to earth and through His death and resurrection, create a most beautiful free gift of salvation ~ a reconciliation and a restoration of our life back to our Heavenly Father. How many of us have a pure heart of kindness that we would die for someone in order to save them? (!! I do not believe that we can die and save someone to eternity, by the way…just wanted to make that clear!!) But really, our hearts, due to their base sin nature would never be able to do that for anyone.
Only God. Except for God. If not for God. ~ We would be lost.
Before we start thinking we are doing so well in terms of how we serve the Lord, how we honor Him with our praise and thanksgiving, we must remember that even in those activities we can become full of ourselves instead of full of the Holy Spirit. God does not abide in the self-elevation we are guilty of. Just because we “aren’t’ as bad as that guy over there,” doesn’t mean we are free from being disciplined due to sin in our life. Luke 16:15 says, “And He told them: “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly admired by people is revolting in God’s sight.”
It amazes me sometimes that I can forget that God knows my heart and my mind. I cannot hide anything from Him, so why in the heck do I think I can get away with unconfessed sin. Afterall, I’m not being hunted by law enforcement, I haven’t killed anyone, I haven’t robbed anyone, so I’m a really good person. But sin…is sin! I know I am being pursued by the Holy Spirit to live a righteous life. I know I need to be truthful in love so as not to destroy a dream that a loved one has shared with me. I know I need to speak encouragement into the lives of those around me so that I do not destroy the tender heart who shares vulnerably with me about their life.
I am so very glad, beyond thrilled really, that God has intervened to bring me back to Him; that He wants to pursue me back to relationship with Him. And He loves me enough to show me in His Word that He has a plan; a perfect plan. I am thankful for His mercy and grace in my life. Let me encourage you to trust the Lord, believe that our Heavenly Father has the best life for you. Turn to Him in the darkest moments and ask Him for strength, as much as you honor Him with praise and thanksgiving in the best of life’s moments. If you do not know the Lord today as your personal Savior, I would love to pray with you and for you ~ message me! But you can start by reading the book of John in the New Testament ~ simply opening up a Bible or typing in http://www.biblegateway.com and put the word “John” into the search bar. Holman Christian Study Bible or New International Version are the easiest to read. Let me know if you have any questions!