Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Living Life After the 'But'

Be honest--the title caught your attention. I want to quickly point out that 'but' only has one 't', not two. But read on please--you won't be disappointed.

Last year, I preached out of the book of Jonah and zeroed in on one word in Jonah's prayer while he was in the belly of the big fish.  It was the word 'but' (Jonah 2:6b).  To sum up Jonah's prayer: "Things are terrible right now, but You brought my life up from the pit."

This became one of those little words that became a common phrase in our church during 2013: "But God..."

The truth is that people always live life after the 'but.' Don't believe me? Here are two options:

     Option #1: Circumstances are terrible, but God will see me through.

     Option #2:  God said He would see me through, but circumstances are terrible.

Guess which option one will find hope, peace, the sufficiency of God?  The person who lives in option 2 may have the head knowledge about God but they have failed to translate that into their life--and the result is worry, anxiety, discouragement, frustration, etc.  Jonah prayed under option #1--because He understood the principle of living life after the 'but.'

Joseph, in speaking to his brothers, understood this: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”  (Gen. 50:20)

Paul understood this: “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:7-9)

Jesus understood this in the Garden of Gethsemane: “My Father, if it is possible may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt. 26:39)

Are you struggling with something in your life right now?  Do you have worry, anxiety, etc.?  Are circumstances beyond your control (which, by the way, most are!)?  We spend too much time focusing on hoping that circumstances will change--rather than focusing on He who lives above and outside those circumstances.

Don’t focus on changing the circumstances, or wondering why circumstances don't change---because we can’t change the ‘but’.  We can only change…what side we put God on.

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