When You Can’t Even . . .
It’s a universal truth. Trials don’t like to be alone. They swarm in together like fire ants.
It seems they can’t patiently wait their turn. They invade our lives in unison.
Wham! A moose T-bones you on a dark road in the middle of the night 30 miles from civilization while on your way to comfort your best friend who lost her dog and her job right before her house fell into a sinkhole, and now you have to walk to get help because there’s no cell phone coverage, and an alligator is blocking your path and eyeing your juicy legs with plans to bite them off. They’ll do that.
Oh my! Oh my! I Can’t Even!
Okay. This exact scenario has probably never happened. But we’ve all experienced our own real-life version of Oh my! Oh my! I can’t even!
If you haven’t had a moment like that, hold on. It’s coming.
I don’t mean to be gloomy, but the darkness of trials will descend upon you.
“. . . In this world you will have trouble. . .” John 16:33
A few translations replace the word trouble with the word suffering.
When trouble and suffering come, what will you do?
What should you do?
Pray and put your but in the right place.
Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen
Moses and the Israelites knew plenty of trouble. For Moses, it started in the crib.
Egypt’s Pharaoh ordered all the Hebrew baby boys drowned in the Nile River so they couldn’t grow up and revolt against him.
In faith and desperation, Moses’ mother hid him in a basket and floated him down the river to safety (she hoped).
God saved Moses and, in an ironic twist, caused his attempted murderer to raise him with all the wealth and benefits of Egyptian royalty (Exodus 1-2).
But 40 years later, Moses killed an Egyptian slavemaster for whipping a Hebrew slave. He had to run for his life because Pharaoh now had a renewed desire to kill him.
But God, I Can’t Even!
Fast forward 40 more years. God spoke to Moses from a burning bush and grabbed his attention.
God said, “Pharaoh’s party is over. I’m sending you back to Egypt to tell him to let My people go.” (Actually, He said a lot more than that and with much more eloquence. See Exodus 3:7-8))
If the pharaoh who raised Moses had tried to kill him (his own “grandson”) over his slaying a single slavemaster, what would Moses’ demanding the millions of Hebrews slaves be set free get him? Dead most likely. Or so Moses feared. He wanted no part of God’s plan.
God’s Plans – God’s Power
God knew Moses’ fears. He guaranteed him He would free Israel by His own mighty hand.
“ . . . I will be with you . . .” (Ex. 4:12).re
“I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt . . .” (Ex. 4:17).
“I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it: after that he will let you go” (Ex. 4:20).
“And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians . . . so you will plunder the Egyptians” (Ex. 4:21).
Moses heard God’s promises with his ears but responded with his but in the wrong place.
“But behold, they will not believe and . . .[ blah blah blah]…” (Ex. 4:1).
In essence, Moses said, “But God, I can’t even! The problems are too big and too many!”
What he should’ve said was, “The problems are too big and too many! I can’t even! But God!”
Putting our but in the right place reminds us God’s plans always come with God’s power.
But God Training Camp
As soon as Moses reached Egypt, the Israelites, Egyptians, and Moses entered God’s training camp – the Ten Terrible Plagues (Ex. 7-12).
After the tenth plague, the Egyptians begged the Israelites to go. They even loaded them down with silver, gold, and other treasures as parting gifts. Freedom gained!
But then Pharaoh changed his mind.
He sent an army of soldiers on iron chariots to chase them down and drag them back.
God had indeed brought Israel out of slavery, but it seemed He’d now led them into a trap.
On one side loomed the Red Sea, deep and wide. From the other, Pharaoh’s thundering army.
“Thanks a lot, God,” the people cried. “We’re doomed.”
But Moses had learned.
He had seen God reveal His power throughout Egypt in more than 10 epic displays.
Israel forgot and trembled. Moses remembered and believed.
Moses didn’t doubt in the dark what God had shown him in the light.
And he kept his but in the right place.
Israel cried out, “BUT GOD, we’re trapped!”
Moses declared, “We’re trapped! BUT GOD!”
Moses declared to Israel: “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Ex. 14:13-14).
God parted the Red Sea, led the Israelites safely to the other side, and then brought the sea back down upon the Egyptian army.
Slavery swept away. Freedom maintained.
Big Problems Exist – So Does God
God doesn’t expect us to pretend our problems don’t exist.
But neither does He expect us to act like He doesn’t exist.
God is real and bigger than any problem you’ll ever face. Will you remember and believe?
Before you doubt God, doubt your doubts.
Never Doubt in the Dark What God Has Shown You in the Light
I Can’t Even, But God!
When trouble comes, put your but in the right place.
Don’t cry out, “BUT GOD! This and that and so much more!”
Cry out, “This and that and so much more! BUT GOD!”
BUT GOD is everything I need for every moment. He’s the Great I Am (Ex. 3:14).
BUT GOD shall supply all my needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
BUT GOD is a God who saves (Psalm 68:20).
BUT GOD is my helper. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13:6).
My flesh and my heart may fail, BUT GOD is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26).
When you cry out, be honest about your feelings. He already knows your every thought. Don’t pretend to feel stronger than you do.
But then remember. Remember who God is and what He’s done. And refuse to doubt.
Let the truth of God’s Word overwhelm your emotions, or your emotions will overwhelm you.
It’s probably not a universal truth that trials don’t like to be alone. But it’s quite true that if trouble swarms into your life, it’s okay.
Excruciating, but okay, because — and only because — we have this never-changing and storm-overwhelming truth contained in two powerful words:
BUT GOD . . .
Jesus promised we’d have trouble. He also promised we can take heart because He has overcome the world.
“I [Jesus] have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart!
I have overcome the world.”
~ John 16:33
Worry is momentary atheism crying out for correction by trust in a good, sovereign God. Suffering breaks self-reliance. ~ Randy Alcorn
Lord Jesus, I can’t—You never said I could—but You can, and always said You would. This is all I need to know. ~ Major Ian Thomas based on Galatians 2:20