Loss can feel like the push that sends us falling off the side of a cliff, failing and disoriented. But there are three little words that form a ledge, jutting from the side of the cliff and catching us before we fall into the gut of a ravine:
“But then God.”
These three words are all throughout the Bible:
The small nation of Israel was surrounded by enemies, vulnerable and afraid, but then God raised up judges — leaders to protect and guide the nation to safety and prosperity (Judges 2).
We were lost in the dark, alone and afraid, having run away from God, but then God came to us to show us that Jesus is the way back to Him. (Hebrews 7).
We were in a bad way, but then God made it good.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling especially lost and low, I look back on my life and gather up all the "But then God" moments.
I was too weak to cook food, but then God sent someone to my door with a hot meal.
I was alone, but then God sent a friend.
I was sick, but then God began to heal me.
Sometimes, though, "But then God" looks different than I think it will.
Jonah’s story exemplifies this:
Jonah was angry with God for giving the horrible people of the city of Nineveh a second chance, so he settled under a lush tree to sulk in the shade, but then God sent a worm to gobble up the shady leaves, and Jonah got angry at the tree. God used Jonah’s response to the barren tree as an object lesson: “Why is it okay for you to grow angry with this tree but it’s not okay for me to grow tender toward the people of Nineveh?” (Jonah 4)
God took Jonah’s shade to give him a deeper understanding of His love. It was a good exchange, but a painful one.
I think the painful "But then God" moments are the most world-changing:
"I was healthy and active, but then God used pervasive sickness to teach me his steady, tender love."
"I was happy but then God used deep depression to cultivate in me a deep compassion for others."
Your loss is not the end of the story. There is a "But then God" around the bend. It may look and feel different than you think it will, but it will always give you more than you could have hoped or imagined. We can rest in this.
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© by scj