Typically, “but” is the introduction to a reason something can’t be done – “I’d like to play in the NBA but I can’t jump” – or the introduction to a defensive statement – “I’m sorry I got angry, but what you said really ticked me off.” That’s why David’s use of that little word “but” caught my attention in Psalm 13 because he uses it in such a counter-intuitive way to lead us from the negative to the positive.
In the six verses of Psalm 13 David takes us from incredible despair to great joy, and it all turns on the word “but”.
Feeling abandoned by God, confused with his thoughts, sorrowful in his heart and overwhelmed by the enemy, David pivots on verse 5:
“BUT I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. (6) I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.”
With all the negativity that David was experiencing in life – challenges and problems that touched him deeply and led him to a strong sense of loss and aloneness – David realized he had a choice, a choice to trust rather than despair.
I often parody one of my least favorite tele-evangeslisits whose message seems simply to be, “When you feel bad – feel good instead” as if it was just a switch that we ourselves had the power to flip. The world is full of such “self-help” advice. What sets David’s “BUT” apart is of course it’s object. Consider for a moment what he is really saying:
Trust – rest in, be confident of. Note that trust demands our faith.
Your – we’re talking here about the God of the universe, no question about his power or ability
Unfailing – never in question, never a miss, never an “uh-oh” should’ve done that
Love -purely motivated, responds on basis of who we are and what we need
Life and ministry have plenty of challenges, don’t they? We can all identify with what David was feeling in the first 4 verses of the Psalm. BUT……….
How do you complete the thought? Can you say with genuineness that you, no matter the circumstance, no matter how you feel, that you trust in His unfailing love.
Growth in our walk with God is often reflected in how quickly we’re able to step into, “But I trust in your unfailing love.” As we pursue the opportunities of ministry in the Europe context, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to feel how David felt – abandoned, confused, sorrowful and overwhelmed – BUT those pale in comparison to our opportunity to step into the unfailing love of God – a love personally designed with us and our situation in mind.
So today let’s make it a day of growth. David was able to turn his despair to joy with just one word. Today, let’s choose to do the same.
(photo courtesy of idea.go/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)