But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much. Ephesians 2:4 NLT
Every time I see a but, I know something else is possible or about to happen.
In English grammar, there are five coordinating conjunctions. I help students remember them with the acronym FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.
When I see for and and, I know things are being connected together. Or signifies the possibility of choice. So and yet are two of the weaker conjunctions and most likely give a result. So also functions as a subordinating conjunction that connects a dependent clause to an independent clause.
But but gives me a contrast. When I want to show two different scenarios, I choose but. Choosing the right conjunction is important; otherwise, the meaning of the sentence is skewed.
Paul chooses the conjunction but for an important reason. He has just reminded believers of what their spiritual state was before Christ. They were dead in their sins and doomed to an eternity separated from God. They obeyed Satan, the one who lives in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. Born with an evil nature, humans were destined to encounter God’s righteous wrath. Then Paul inserts that most important conjunction: but. Thankfully, God intervened.
I was one of those Paul spoke about. I was a sinner, but God offered me forgiveness for all my sins and gave it when I asked. I was once a prodigal who walked away from all I knew to be right, but God ran to me with open arms of forgiveness when I decided to come home.
I’ve found myself in some pretty serious circumstances, but when I prayed and asked, God delivered me each and every time. I’ve said some gossipy, mean things to people and behind their backs, but God has shown me a better way to talk. I’ve allowed anger to rule my days and nights, but God has shown me how to forgive. Well, you get the idea.
God loves the conjunction, but. He loves to take what is and offer a better way. He enjoys intervening in the messes I make of my life through unhealthy attitudes, choices, words, and thoughts, and offer me a but—then follow it with a better choice. Buts can signal a worse choice, yet with God they normally offer a better way.
Let God’s buts take you in a better direction than you are presently traveling.
Prayer: Father, we thank You for the buts You send our way.