The Battle Belongs to the Lord

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good . . . “

Genesis 59:20, NIV

BUT GOD. Two little words. Lots of meaning.

Let’s start with “God.” (We should always start with God, right?) I can only begin to describe here what that one little word means, to explain just who God is. Creator of the universe. Creator of me. Holy. Loving. All knowing. All powerful. Merciful. Gracious. Forgiving . . .

Or, as Michael W. Smith describes, he is:
Miracle Worker
Promise Keeper
Light in the darkness

Try to keep all that in mind as we think about that second small word with lots of meaning: but. A little word that changes the whole picture. That’s what that word means, isn’t it? We think things are one way, when in reality they’re just the opposite.

  • I thought I wanted to be an English teacher, but God, through a series of steps, led me into linguistics and Bible translation.
  • We thought God was leading us to Sudan, but God was using Sudan as a stepping stone to take us to Nigeria
  • Joseph’s brothers intended to harm him, but God intended their actions for good.

That’s the way it is sometimes, right? We see things one way, forgetting that God is in the picture. That God is at work even when we don’t realize it.

Much of Joseph’s life can be seen in but God moments. God was at work in all of them even if we don’t see the words but God written in big, bold letters.

  • Joseph’s brothers wanted to kill him. But the eldest, Reuben, said they should just throw him in the well. (Reuben intended to return later and safely get Joseph out of the well.
  • But God sent a caravan past. The brothers decided to make some money instead of killing Joseph, and they sold him as a slave.
  • Joseph was bought by Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, but “The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered” (Genesis 39:2, NIV).
  • Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, but Joseph remained true to God (Genesis 39:9). She accuses him of trying to sleep with her, and so Joseph is sent to prison. but “while Joseph was in prison the Lord was with him” (Genesis 39:20-21, NIV).
  • I could tell you more, but you should read the whole story. It’s really quite amazing that this young Hebrew came to be in charge of all of Egypt. Impossible—except for the but God.

There are but God moments throughout the Bible. Remember how Herod tried to find out from the magi where this “king of the Jews” was to be born? “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him” (Matthew 2:8, NIV). But God used a dream to warn the magi not to go back to Herod, but to return home by another way.

His plot foiled, Herod tried another way to get rid of this child, this potential rival. He ordered that all the boys under two throughout the whole region be killed. But God had already warned Joseph to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt, where they would be safe.

But God.

Do we need to take a closer look at our own lives to recognize that God is working? To see how God is working? Instead of getting frustrated or angry when things don’t go as we’d planned, maybe we need to look at events—and people—through God’s eyes, not our own? Sometimes we may need to poke around behind the scenes to see just what he’s up to. Sometimes we just have to trust that he’s working and wait patiently for him to reveal his purposes in his own time. Because he is there. And he is always working. There is always a but God.

Soul Refreshers for your week:

  • Read through the story of Joseph (Genesis 37, 39-45). He had a lot he could have complained about, yet he didn’t complain. He knew that in spite of the way things looked, there is always the but God.
  • Some other “but God” moments to think about:
    • Acts 3:13-15
    • Acts 13:4-12. Elymas tried to keep the proconsul from becoming a Christian, but God has other plans.
    • Ephesians 2:1, 4
  • What but God moments have there been in your life? How about writing out a few—to remind yourself he’s always been at work and always will be at work, and to give you things you can share with others about just how great God is.

___________________________  but God ________________________________________

___________________________  but God ________________________________________

___________________________  but God ________________________________________

___________________________  but God ________________________________________

  • Are there things you’re encountering now where perhaps you need to look again at just what is happening? Where is the but God in this situation? Is he at work behind the scenes? In his own time? Can you trust he is there, hard at work?

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