What Do You Do When Life Sucks? (The Power of the “But”)

What do you do when life sucks? What do you do when it seems everyone and everything is against you? What do you do when your marriage isn’t what you want it to be or you are struggling with your kids? What do you do when your pile of bills is way bigger than you can pay? What do you do when your health is bad and it seems you’re running out of hope? What do you do when you feel totally discouraged, hurt, and afraid?

Have you been here lately? Are you here now? I want to encourage you–and me–today with some lessons from a very old story.

A man named David was talking to God about his dire situation, and he opened up about how he was feeling about it. He said he was exhausted from crying for help (Psalm 69:3). At that point, David’s life sucked. And he wasn’t afraid to tell God how he felt about that.

After talking on and on about all of his horrible circumstances and how he felt so hopeless in the midst of them (how often do we do that?), David finally said an important word: “But.”

This is one of the biggest buts in the Bible.

“But,” he said, “I keep right on praying to you, Lord, hoping this time you will show me favor.”

When life sucks … keep right on praying … and hoping.

But what if you’ve prayed about something, and yet God does not seem to be answering? Very common question, and I don’t have all the answers, because this is just one of those “only God knows” kind of things. But let me try to explain what I do know about this.

I believe in a God who is the creator (regardless of how he created), the Alpha, the eternal designer, the archetypal architect and author of all. As such, I believe he has a design for how life is best lived. It’s not so much about rules and regulations, can and can’t do’s, but about living this life we’ve been given to the full.

So, when I choose to live according to God’s plans and am going the way he wants me to go, the Bible says his hand is ready to help me (Psalm 119:173). That’s an awesome promise! But it is conditional. The verse continues, “for I have chosen your precepts.” God’s promises are conditional not because God puts fine-print terms on his love, as we humans tend to do, but because he sees the big picture. He knows when his help will truly help us (when we’re doing things his way) and when it will ultimately harm us (when we’re doing things contrary to his design).

Why would a loving father give us something that he knows would ultimately hurt us? Our Father God’s ultimate desire for us is to live in a trusting relationship with him–to choose his way of living life. That’s why he “works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). He sees the big picture. He knows what is ultimately best for us. And he wants that. He loves each of us so much that he’s willing to sacrifice to make it happen.

God is working, regardless of what you have done or are doing. He is at work, regardless of how you feel or the circumstances you are in. He cares for you and has a plan for your life no matter how long you’ve been asking and waiting.Trust him, regardless of how things seem or how you feel. Take a walk outside and delight in God’s creation. Hold a baby and delight in God’s miracles. Care for a friend and delight in the opportunity to serve.

Sometimes life sucks. That’s not God’s fault, although he often takes the blame. Often life sucks because of the choices we or others around us (even others now generations removed) have made.

I’ve had type 1 diabetes for 42+ years. Yes, that sucks. I’m not sure why I have it. It may be genetic, although I’m the only one in my family who has it. I look at it as a life circumstance. It’s the hand I’ve been dealt.

My response is to keep on praying. For a cure? Sure. But (there’s that all-important “but” again) mostly I ask for the ability and strength and fortitude to make the right choices each day. I know that having diabetes sucks for lots of people, so I pray for them. I volunteer with the American Diabetes Association in Louisville to keep working toward a cure. I ride my bike as a Red Rider. And none of that stuff sucks. It’s actually pretty sweet!

It’s the power of the “But.”

 *     *     *     *     *

More Posts on Dealing with Trials

Thankful for Temporary

Diagnose How Well You Are Handling Your Diabetes

How to Look Past the Obstacles