“Yes” and “but.”
Those two, little, three-letter words pair together like salty and sweet.
“Yes, this is a good financial investment, but past performance is no guarantee of future results.”
Both can be true. The question is, does the “but” disprove the “yes”?
If it did, no one would invest. Instead, experience and experts teach us to save wisely with a humble awareness of factors outside our control. Yes, portfolios tend to grow with disciplined investment of money. But sometimes there are recessions.
“Yes” and “but” give us a way to categorize opposing facts. That’s as helpful with the stock market as it is with faith, because investing our trust with God involves a lot of “yes” and “but.”
Yes, God is a good God. But a lot of bad things happen. Innocent people are convicted. Guilty people go free. Healthy people are diagnosed with terminal diseases.
Yes, God is in control. But the world is volatile. Floods rise and sweep away life. Nations rage against nations. Violence escalates to frightening levels.
Yes, God can be trusted. But sometimes we trust Him and life gets more difficult. We trust Him with our career but the promotion goes to someone else. We trust Him with our children but they rebel. We trust Him with our money but we can’t make ends meet.
All these can be true. The question is, does the “but” disprove the “yes”?
If it does, then God is a bad investment.
If you read God’s prospectus, the Bible, you’ll notice God isn’t afraid to teach us both words.
One helpful example is the story of a loving father whose child was afflicted by evil. He was a dad living in the tension of “yes” and “but.” Yes, he loved his child. But evil was destroying him.
He took this unsolvable problem to Jesus and explained how nothing up to that point had worked.
“But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Jesus gently reminded the dad that this was not a question of “if,” and that anything is possible for those who believe.
“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’” (Mark 9:22-24)
I can relate to the kind of faith that says, “Yes, God, I believe. But what you’re saying is impossible. Help me to believe.” Jesus is not offended by that kind of honesty; He respects it.
You see this in the way Jesus responded to the honest father. Yes, those nearby thought the child had died. But Jesus took his hand and helped him up.
Yes, God has that kind of power. But He doesn’t always act in the way we expect He should. Jesus knew this first hand. “Yes,” His own loving Father had the power to take away the suffering of the cross. “But” Jesus still suffered and died.
Does that “but” disprove the “yes”?
Actually, it’s the opposite. His suffering proves God’s sacrificial love for us.
He is Lord of both “yes” and “but,” which means we can trust Him even when we don’t see how He’s going to make things right. Faith grows well in a diversified portfolio that has a healthy balance of “yes” and “but.”
Yes, Jesus died, but God raised Him from the dead. He offers that powerful hope to those who say “yes” to Him by faith. But with Jesus, unlike the stock market, past performance does guarantee future results.
— Gregg Madsen is the Lead Pastor of Steadfast Gretna. Reach him at gmad email@example.com.