Big Buts in the Psalms: The Secret to Real Success

In my reading of the Psalms, I’ve encountered several huge buts. The psalmist usually begins the psalm with a lament about his current circumstances, how bad things are, how everything seems to be falling apart. And then the writer uses this simple, three-letter, transitional word … but.

But … and though the situation itself hasn’t changed, the psalmist’s attitude does. His outlook and focus changes. He turns his attention away from the circumstances and to his God who is way bigger than the circumstances.

This is why I think Paul told the Colossians to “set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Col 3:1) and to “set you minds on things above, not on earthy things (Col. 3:2). In other words, we need to put our hearts and minds on Jesus, our only real hope and source of peace and power, not on the things of this earth that waste away and have so little to give.

On another occasion, Paul said he had “learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11), and this man’s circumstances were rough! He said he had learned the “secret” of being content in any and every situation (Philippians 4:12). That secret was in his relationship with God.

Here’s a big, challenging question: Am I more desperate for God or for what he can provide? He desires a loving relationship with me, not neediness. He’s my Master, not my minion. And I believe the best gift God can give us is the withholding of giving us what we want until we turn our eyes off ourselves and our circumstances and to him. The secret is in the relationship.

When we turn our hearts and minds from the problems of this world and to Christ Jesus, everything changes. This is why Paul could write,

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! …
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7). 

God is on his throne in heaven and he will not be unseated! He is a covenant-keeping God, and I can rely on and trust in him. So can you.

So … have you come to your “but” yet?

Author: Michael Mack

Michael Mack has been involved in small group ministry as a pastor, writer, trainer, and speaker for more than 25 years. He founded in 1995 and started Small Group Leadership in 2012. He became the 12th editor of Christian Standard magazine in 2017 and continues to speak in churches about small groups, discipleship, and leadership. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. They have four young adult children. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of friends. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

One thought on “Big Buts in the Psalms: The Secret to Real Success”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.