I stood in the grocery line and wondered why the cashier was ignoring the customer…
He is all things to all people. Imagine that, if you can. I don’t know if I can imagine being all things to all people. Frankly, it sounds exhausting! I can barely be wife, mom, daughter, worker, domestic engineer, driver, sister and keeper of the calendar for my family of 6. God has a family of billions and He seems to be able to keep it all going without missing a beat. That is simply because He is God and we are not. In our human frailty, we try to do everything, and do it well, but we know that we can never possibly succeed. We are called to be like Christ, with our unique talents and charisms and to trust that God will grace us with what we need to fulfill this call of discipleship. We must continually rely on Him Who is able to do the impossible, and so much more!
We see in Scripture, over and over again, how God does what He says He will do; how God remembers; how God is faithful, merciful and just. He calls each of us to greatness but never to something that He has not already shown us is attainable if we keep connected to Him. When we are in doubt, He is our confidence; when we are in trouble, He is our Savior; when we are fearful, He is our shield. Scripture is filled with these “But God” moments which give us hope and proof that God is forever for us.
Gen 7:24 – “And the waters swelled on the earth for one hundred and fifty days.” While Noah and his family and all the animals on the ark floated around thinking God had forgotten them… “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and all the domestic animals that were with him in the ark,” Gen 8:1.
Gen 21:11 – “The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son.” When Abraham is worried and confused as to how God will act in the matter of his son Ishmael, God does not disappoint him. “But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not be distressed because of the boy of your slave woman… I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring,” Gen 21:12-13.
When Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers and eventually becomes the right hand of Pharaoh and keeps his people alive during the famine, God works the evil committed by his brothers for good. “You intended to do harm to me, but God intended it for good,” Gen 50: 20.
In 1 Samuel 23, David eludes Saul in the wilderness thanks to God’s protection. “And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.”
The Book of Psalms is filled with affirmations of God’s actions especially against the doubts of man. When death is upon us and there seems to be no hope of anything beyond the grave, we read: “But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive me,” Psalm 49:15. When we wonder why the wicked seem to prosper and the ones who follow God’s ways are persecuted – “But God will shatter the heads of his enemies, the hairy crown of him who walks in his guilty ways,” Psalm 68:21. When we are weary from the constant fight to remain in the light – “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever,” Psalm 73:26.
When all seems lost and we are forlorn – “For I sent you out with sorrow and weeping, but God will give you back to me with joy and gladness forever,” Baruch 4:23.
Jesus speaks plainly of the beautiful and saving action of His Father. In the New Testament, we see many instances of man’s pride which contributes to lost hope, doubt and fear and it is the beautiful words of Christ which remind us of our good God. Jesus says, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God,” Luke 16:15.
In the Book of Acts, it is affirmed through the Apostles that God is the One Who saves through His Son, Jesus Christ. “They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree; but God raised Him on the third day and made Him manifest,” Acts 10:39-40.
Perhaps one of the greatest examples in Scripture which shows the failure of man and the saving grace of God is seen in Romans 5:8 – “But God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” St. Paul continues to expand this beautiful work in the economy of salvation in Ephesians 2:4-5 – “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ; by grace you have been saved.”
Throughout the Gospels, it is Jesus who takes on this “but” when He sees what is happening in the lives of those who are lost, blind, in captivity of sin and enslaved in idolatry. He is the one true Shepherd, sent to lead us back into the sheepfold. The Gospel writers use this, “but Jesus” to show us that He has a different way, the only way to salvation, through Him. When the Apostles speak of division, Jesus speaks of unity. When they speak of doubt, Jesus speaks of trust in Him. His way is contrary to the norm. It was true in Jesus’ day and it is true in our day as well. The way of Christ is not an easy way, but it is the ONLY way which leads to the fullness of life in this world and the fullness of joy in the next. May our hearts be always open to the blessings which come from His “but” moments.
Copyright 2023, Nicky Verna