Watching an old western movie, we’d often hear the sound of thundering horses and the blaring of bugles, and we knew the Calvary was on its way to rescue the “damsel in distress.” Today, it might be the sound of the siren on an ambulance letting us know help is on the way for us or someone we love. But the sound of rescue that I love most are my two favorite words in the Bible — But God!
Over and over in Scripture, we read about God’s people being in terrible situations. Then we see those two little words — But God — and we are assured that God was still in control and that He would work everything out. However, their rescue was not always immediate because God was using whatever was happening to teach His people what He wanted them to know.
Those who believe in Christ and have trusted Him as their Savior still face bad times today, and our But God is found in many places in Scripture, including Rom. 8:28 (HCSB): “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.”
When I was not quite 12 years old (almost 63 years ago!), I heard the gospel (the story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ), realized I was a sinner, confessed my sins to God and asked Him to forgive me. Then I asked Jesus to come into my heart and take control… and He did!
One of the first verses I memorized was Rom. 8:28. And I’ve found that God has always been faithful… but He hasn’t always come in on a thundering white horse with trumpets blaring to save me from whatever terrible situation I was in at the time.
Sometimes the trouble I was in was of my own making and due to my sin. Other times, it was because of the sins of others. And other times, it was simply to teach me something I needed to know. To be honest, there have been times when I wept bitter tears and asked, “Lord, don’t you love me? Why are you letting this happen to me?” After all these years, I know the answer — yes, He loves me with “an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3), but He is constantly teaching me how to be like Jesus, and sometimes those lessons are painful and take a while.
Jerry Bridges said, in his book Trusting God, said: “God knows exactly what adversity we need to go through to grow more and more into the likeness of His Son… He not only knows what we need but when we need it and how to bring it to pass in our lives… He is the perfect teacher, and His discipline is always exactly suited to our needs.”
I once told my former boss, “I think God is trying to teach me something;” to which He immediately replied, “God isn’t trying to do anything!” I got the point — God was teaching me; the question was whether I was listening and learning. As I look back through my life after all these years, I see times when He was, indeed, teaching me. Some lessons I learned quickly, and some took many years. These are three of the many But God moments in my life — when God did, indeed, come to my rescue:
• My mother probably had a mental illness. As a child, I kept wondering why I was so wonderful one minute and so awful the next. Of course, I blamed it on my behavior, and I’m sure that was true some of the time. But after a lot of prayer and study, I’ve come to realize that my mother probably suffered from untreated bipolar disorder, which caused her to have extreme “highs and lows” and contributed to the mental/verbal abuse and neglect my sisters and I suffered.
But God used mother’s condition to make me strong and has taught me many lessons, especially what not to do. After she died back in 2002, I was helping my husband with a project and when he looked over and saw my tears, he asked what was wrong. I said, “I just realized that I’ll never have the mother I always wanted.” He simply said, “No, but our children do.” That’s when I realized that mother’s mental illness had been used for my good. Through mother, He had taught me to depend on Him continually and He also taught me a few things I should do (and many things I shouldn’t do) when I became a mother. God hadn’t removed my problem, but He had brought me through it by His grace and made me more like His Son.
• We lost our firstborn son. I had always wanted to be a mother, and Pat and I named our child before we even got married — Sean Patrick. We were absolutely thrilled when we found out, after we’d been married a couple of years, that I was carrying our baby — the first grandchild on both sides. The pregnancy was uneventful, and so was his birth. But after only seven hours of life and before I even got to hold him, Sean coughed up phlegm and passed away in the hospital nursery. We were devastated to say the least!
But Godhas used Sean’s short life in so many ways through the years. We determined that not even one second of our son’s life would be used by Satan and that we would praise the Lord and glorify Him in all of it. God has honored that decision and has used our testimony to be a blessing to others through the years. Nobody can understand the loss of a child unless they have been through it, and God has placed people in my path that I could empathize with and encourage — including my sister, who lost her 14-year-old son in a car accident many years later.
Another But God — A couple of years after Sean died, we welcomed our precious son, Robert Patrick into our lives. Then two years after that, our princess, Trina Michelle completed our little family. When our children were married, their spouses became our “children in love,” and a few years later we added three grandchildren and one of those (Baleigh and her husband, Garrett) gave us a great grandson! God is so good!
• I always wanted to be a school teacher, but God didn’t allow it. I had always been a fairly good student and planned to attend college and earn my degree. But a week before I graduated from high school, a handsome young Marine asked me to marry him, and college went by the wayside. I fell back on what I’d learned in my secretarial classes and worked for 10 years at the Arkansas Department of Health — Maternal and Child Health Division, which was a big help during the years my children were born! (Another “But God” moment — He always knows where to place His children, doesn’t He?)
• But Goddid allow me to teach for many years in church, and some of my fondest memories and blessings revolve around those experiences and those beloved students.
• Another But God — A few months after I left the Health Department, I received a call from the editor of the Baptist Trumpet asking me to come and fill in for their typesetter who was going on maternity leave. (She and the editor’s secretary were friends of mine from church, and they recommended me to him.) So, on Jan. 2, 1980, I started working there — temporary, part-time and sight unseen by the boss — and stayed there until I retired on Nov. 5, 2020 — over 40 years! Oh, and did I mention that for the last 15 years I served as editor? God works in mysterious ways!
Like I said, I’ve lived a lot of years and I could go on and on about my But God moments, but you get the picture. There have been times when I folded my arms, looked up to Heaven and said, “Well, it’s going to be interesting to see how You work this one out!” But God has always been there, working all things together for my good.
He doesn’t promise that His children — those who have accepted Christ as their Savior — won’t have to go through bad times. He doesn’t promise to give us a way around our troubles, but He does promise to show us a way through them and that He’ll walk beside us all the way.
Keep looking for those “But God” moments — they’re coming!
— This article is shared with permission and was originally published at lifeword.org/blog/equipping-the-called.