But God…

???????????????????????????????For those in our church:  you really missed a great blessing if you missed last night’s service.  We had a special evening of testimonies and singing, and it seemed as if God drew back the curtain to give us a glimpse of what He has been doing behind the scenes.

Hard things

It can be easy to look at and even focus on the hard things, or the things we view as bad that are going on in our lives. I certainly have been guilty of this.  When we do this we forget that God is still there, still working out things for His glory and our good.

Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery

Remember Joseph?  Hated by his own brothers – this is bad.  Sold into slavery – how could those brothers be so mean? Falsely accused and thrown into prison – that Mrs. Potiphar was really wicked.  Languished in prison when the butler forgot his promise – how could he?

The story, as we know does not end there.  Joseph was not only brought out of prison, he was appointed second highest official in the land.  In Genesis 50:20 Joseph reassures his bothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”  When we look at part “A” and react to all the bad stuff, we are forgetting part “B,” “But God…”

Saul wanted to kill David

David, anointed to be the next king of Israel, had to be constantly on the move to avoid the murderous plans of jealous king Saul.  Day after day Saul pursued David and day after day David moved out of the way.  To onlookers this chase must have appeared to have an uncertain outcome, until we read in 1 Samuel 23:14, “And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.”  God was protecting David all along in spite of appearances.

Jesus was crucified

When Jesus conducted His preaching and teaching ministry many followed Him with gratitude and joy.  Yet one terrible day He was falsely accused, beaten, and killed.  His followers were shocked and grieved.  Some did not realize these events fulfilled biblical prophecies of the coming Messiah. Paul recounts the crucifixion story in Acts 13:29-30, “And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead.”  What initially seemed to be a terrible injustice was, in fact, planned by the hand of God for the salvation of mankind.

But God…

When we arrive at the end of our rope, the end of our hope, the end of our courage, or the end of our strength, we need to be encouraged by the “but God” verses of Scripture.  Psalm 73:26 reminds us, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Forever means today, tomorrow and every day of our future.

God is still there

Are you burdened about something in your life, your family, your church, your wider circle?  As I listened to the testimonies last night I was encouraged that in every case when people got to the end of themselves God was still there, still involved, still leading, and still loving.  God is faithful to His word and is still using those who are willing to let go and give Him glory in their lives.

God’s choices

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 reminds us, “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

Take heart!

Something difficult may be happening in your life today.  Take heart! The same ‘but God’ verses which encouraged saints in the past are still true for us today.


This session was recently presented to the pastors’ wives at the National Church Planters’ Conference in Mentor Ohio, sponsored by ARCH Ministries.  These sessions were adapted from my ladies’ Sunday School series on Biblical Womanhood created for Meadowlands Baptist Church of Edmonton.


Session 3 – Discouragement

Discouragement is something that most of us face in our lives.  As Christians we know we should trust in the Lord and we believe what God says in 1 Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it,” but yet we succumb at times to discouragement.

Let’s define our terms.  What is discouragement?  The Free Dictionary (www.thefreedictionary.com ) says discourage is “1. To deprive of confidence, hope, or spirit; 2. To hamper by discouraging; deter: 3. To try to prevent by expressing disapproval or raising objections. Another definition is: derailment; feeling of despair in the face of obstacles (www.english-test.net) while a third defines discourage:  1. To deprive of the will to persist in something; 2. To oppose by expressing disapproval (www.dictionary.reference.com)  For our purposes we will define discouragement this way:  to leave one without hope, to feel emotionally deflated or without confidence; to be dispirited.

For years he was forced to live a renegade life, eking out an existence in caves and tents, residing in neighboring countries which were at war with his nation.  What heinous crime had he committed causing him to live such a life?  Unflinching faith.  As a youth David so loved and defended his God that he stood alone in battle against the mocking champion giant Goliath, with unwavering faith that God would guide him to defend His holy name.  David grew into a mighty warrior, known for his skill in battle and wisdom as a leader.  The prophet Samuel made it clear that the Kingdom of Israel would be taken from the disobedient Saul and given to David, and Saul was jealous and angry because of it.  For a while the two lived in uneasy harmony until Saul attempted to take David’s life.  So David fled and hid from Saul, gathering an army of warriors and mighty men to himself over time.

As his army grew it became more difficult to move the men and their families from place to place.  In the providence of God David helped the Philistines defeat some common enemies and the godless Philistine King Achish rewarded David and his men by giving them the city of Ziklag to live in.  David’s army fought alongside the Philistine armies to defeat many foes, but then the day came when the Philistines were to do battle with Israel.  David did not want to war against his brethren and God caused the distrust and suspicions of some Philistine officers to keep David from joining the conflict.  The Israeli army was sent back to Ziklag.

It took them three days to return home.  As they topped the hill overlooking Ziklag they were stunned by a horrible sight.  The city had been burned and was in ruins.  No signs of life met them.  The Amalekites had raided Ziklag, burned the city, and taken captive all of the women and children.  Tired from their strenuous battles and weary from traveling the men mourned and wept.  Some ranted and in their distress blamed David and threatened to kill him.  Exhausted, displaced, and facing disgruntled men, David was discouraged.

The Bible uses several words to describe discouragement. What does the Bible have to say to those who grow discouraged?

Cast Down

  • Psalm 42:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God…
  • 2 Corinthians 7:6 God…comforteth those that are cast down


  • Deuteronomy 31:8 And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.
  • Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
  • Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.


  • Psalm 107:6 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.
  • Psalm 107:13 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
  • 1Thessalonians 3:7 Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:
Our story of David at Ziklag does not end with David being discouraged.  I Samuel 30:6 tells us that “David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”  In his darkest moment David looked to God for direction, help, and hope.  The chapter goes on to tell us how David did not rush out to reclaim his family and goods, but first sought the mind of God.  The natural man might look at circumstances like these and quit or despair or blame others or grow bitter.  Instead David threw himself on the mercy and wisdom of the One who knows and controls all.  David encouraged himself in the Lord, HIS God. 

Matthew Henry comments on this:

 “Those that have taken the Lord for their God may take encouragement from their relation to him in the worst of times. It is the duty and interest of all good people, whatever happens, to encourage themselves in God as their Lord and their God, assuring themselves that he can and will bring light out of darkness, peace out of trouble, and good out of evil… It was David’s practice, and he had the comfort of it, ‘What time I am afraid I will trust in thee’. When he was at his wits’ end he was not at his faith’s end.”

The flip side of this will be presented in Session 4: Encouragement