“But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in offenses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you are saved!–and he raised us up together with him and seated us together with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4-6).
A few years ago, my college baseball team was in the playoffs, trying to make it to the World Series. It was the bottom of the ninth inning, and we were up to bat one final time. Two outs, two strikes, and we were down by a few runs. I almost turned off the television because I did not want to see us lose, but a glimmer of hope made me keep watching. And then the impossible happened. We got a hit, moved men around the bases, eventually scored a few runs, and won the game, securing us a spot in the World Series in Omaha. It was unbelievable. We still talk about that game to this day because it was such a huge comeback when all looked lost.
However, baseball comebacks pale in comparison to the comeback stories we see repeatedly in the Bible. Often in the Scriptures, all things look lost, the end seemingly inevitable, and then the words, “But God” enter the narrative and the impossible happens. In the NET (New English Translation) when you search the words “But God,” it gives you 587 passages to review. You’ll be happy to know we are not going to cover all 587, but let’s hit a few of them to see what we can learn from some “But God” moments.
“But God” Moments
First, is Ephesians 2, probably one of the best ones. “And although you were dead in your offenses and sins, in which you formerly lived according to this world’s present path, according to the ruler of the domain of the air, the ruler of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience, among whom all of us also formerly lived out our lives in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and mind, and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest” (Eph 2:1-3). This is a bad scene, isn’t it? We are dead in our offenses and sins, we’ve got the ruler of the domain of the air at the helm, we are succumbing to the cravings of our flesh, and to top it off, we are children of wrath. How can we possibly get out of this bad situation? Well, on our own, there is no way. We might try, but eventually we will cave and give in. We need an outside rescuer.
Add the words, “But God.” He entered the scene, rich in mercy and full of great love, and He rescued us from our fate. Not only that, but He also raised us up together and seated us with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph 2:4-6). An epic comeback to be certain!
No doubt, we all have a few areas in our lives that seem a little hopeless. The cards are stacked against us, we’ve tried every way we know how to solve the situation; but nothing works. It is in those situations that we can really find hope in the “But God” words of Scripture.
The Words of Jesus
Next, let’s look at the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:26 where “Jesus looked at them and replied, ‘This is impossible for mere humans, but for God all things are possible.’” The context of this scene is when Jesus tells the disciples it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. I’d say the camel part is pretty impossible, considering I have a hard time getting a little piece of thread through one of those pesky needle eyes. What I learn in this instance is that only God can create “But God” moments.
Another favorite passage to review is “But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong” (1 Cor. 1:27). God doesn’t do things in the manner we might think He would. Here, He uses what we think of as foolish to shame the wise and chooses what we perceive as weak to shame the strong. I think this includes how He chooses to use us for His purposes in the world. It’s wild, isn’t it? He chooses to use us to make the world a better place and, not only that, but He also steps in to help us do it.
Certainly, dark times come and often all seems lost, but we have a God with a track record of epic comebacks. He also has a pattern of using weak people like us to do it. It might be the bottom of the ninth inning in your game with two outs and two strikes; but don’t give up just yet. Maybe a “But God” moment is right around the corner, and you aren’t going to want to miss it.