One universal truth is that at some time or another in this life, we all face storms. In fact, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “Into each life some rain must fall.” This can come in a myriad of forms – cancelled plans, sick children, wayward spouses, failing businesses, you name it. These can appear to us as anything from the proverbial raining on your parade, all the way up to the complete and utter devastation of a category five hurricane. The one thing we can be sure of is that at some point a storm will come along and we do well to be prepared up front, then to handle it as best we can during its onslaught.
I have read – from both grammatical and psychological perspectives – that the word “BUT” negates all that goes before it. For example, if someone tells you 99 great things about yourself, then adds, “but you leave wet towels on the bathroom floor,” this last comment is the one you remember.
Another case in point. Say you ask a friend to go with you to the mall. Consider his responses:
- I’d love to go with you to the mall, but I am so tired. (Interpretation = Your bud is bailing.)
- I’m so tired, but I’d love to go with you to the mall. (Interpretation = He’s riding shotgun.)
In nerd-like wonder, it occurs to me that it is not just the words we say, but the order in which we say them that is important. (See what I just did there?)
When storms come, I try to make it a habit to practice the goodness of God: to recall Who He is, His attributes, and His promises to His children, of which I am one. Lately, well actually for the last two years, I’ve been in a doozie of a season. It’s been sunshine and tornadoes and everything in between. My efforts to beat down the storms with this goodness of God have gone something like this:
- God is faithful, but man, I am weary in this fight.
- God is truth. His Word endures forever, but my heart is broken.
- Jesus love me, but I just want to scream.
- The Holy Spirit gives wisdom to anyone who asks, but I feel so incompetent.
Then recently, in one of those lightbulb moments while on an outdoor run, my mind connected these dots. By putting a “but” after a promise or statement about God, I (in my mind, and therefore eventually in my practice) negate His strength and His truth in comparison to the difficult circumstances of life. In doing so, I am essentially saying that the power of God is not really a match for my particular storm, that this is the one thing in the history of all time that He simply cannot handle.
Doing this is agreement with the enemy who does all that he can to undermine our understanding of Who God is and His heart towards us. With that in mind, let’s rearrange those statements.
- I am weary in this fight, but God is faithful.
- My heart may be broken, but God is true. His Word endures forever.
- Sometimes I just want to scream, but Jesus loves me. He holds me in His arms. He rejoices over me with singing and quiets me with His love.
- I feel so incompetent right now, but Holy Spirit gives wisdom to anyone who asks.
Now the promises of my Father are negating the struggles. And that’s good, so very good!
This is new territory for me, so I’m sure it will take some time to make this the automatic response to the challenges life throws my way. I trust that in two weeks, two years, two decades my perspective will change as I learn, little by little, to see past the problems and fix my gaze firmly on my Father. He is, after all, the ultimate Authority here.
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