The Big But
One of my very favorite words in the Bible is “but”. I was reminded of that fact this morning as I read Ephesians 2:4-5, which tells us, “But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead.”. In this chapter of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul is writing about the difference that Christ's death and resurrection make in the life of those who believe. He begins the chapter with a discussion on what we are like before we accept Christ, and it's a pretty bleak picture as Paul describes us as being “dead”. We can't really get much worse off than that!
Then in verse 4, Paul begins the transition to the “after” picture - and he does so with that wonderful word “but”. I love when that word shows up in the Bible because it always comes right when I'm about ready to give up. Here’s what I mean by that: when we read the Bible, we often read about the sinfulness of the world, and of people, and about how Satan is working to trip us up. And then, right when we're starting to feel helpless and hopeless and discouraged, God slips in that wonderful word “but”. So yes, the world is sinful. And yes, Satan is at work. And yes, we’re tempted by our old nature - BUT, there’s more to the story! And that's because God is at work as well. Not only is He at work, but He's more powerful than all the other forces at work against us, so we can have abundant hope.
As I read that passage this morning I realized it was just the encouragement I needed. Life is challenging, and we will face struggles - which is why we need to hold on to the truth that God is at work all around us. And the work He's doing is designed for our good - a point Paul makes in Romans 8:28 when he reminds us that: “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”
So today, let's focus on the fact that God's at work. Let’s be encouraged by the new life He's given us - a life that comes with freedom from sin, and a plan for our good. And if things seem bleak all around us, let’s remember that magnificent word - “but” - and let’s move forward with confidence.