Have you ever noticed how many times in Scripture people or situations will be at an absolute crisis point, when all that can be seen is desperation and defeat, and then two little words change everything and bring a profound and lasting victory: BUT GOD.
In Genesis 50:20, when Joseph confronts his brothers who sold him into slavery, he tells them that the defeat they wanted for his life never came through. Why? Because God came through instead. He tells them definitively, "You intended to harm me, BUT GOD intended it for good."
Or in Psalm 73, when the writer contemplates his own death and the inevitable weakening of his body, but realizes that even what the world sees as a final defeat is not a defeat at all: "My flesh and my heart may fail, BUT GOD is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
In Romans 5, the apostle Paul contemplated how messed up and desperate our situation as sinful people was: "Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die." (Thus, if it's very rare for someone to die even for a righteous person, what then is the fate of people like us, who have sinned?) Paul goes on to say what our ultimate hope is: again, it's because God steps on the scene and changes everything. BUT GOD demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Or in Acts 2, when the death of Christ is recounted: "You put him to death by nailing him to the cross. BUT GOD raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him."
Or, when the apostle Paul considered how the people God chooses to do his work, according to the world's standards, should never have been chosen at all. "Think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. BUT GOD chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." (1 Corinthians 1)
But God. Defeat. BUT GOD. Then victory. Death is not the final word, not even the brutal crucifixion of Christ. Our own physical death does not have the final word. Our circumstances don't have the final word. Other people's plans to mess us up and hurt us don't control. The burden of our sin can't control us. People's intentions to break us down, destroy us, belittle us, and demean us can't change who we are in Christ. But GOD has the final word in our lives. Things will be according to His perfect plan, no matter how defeated and distraught the world wants us to feel.
I want this to be my life story, my memoir, my autobiography, my testimony for all eternity: I was defeated, BUT GOD gave me the victory. I was lost, but God found me. I was a sinner, but God saved me by his beautiful, scandalous grace. I was broken, but God pieced me together again--somehow more beautifully than before. Others hurt me, but God restored me. I was blind, but God gave me eyes to see. I was exhausted, but God renewed me. I was grieving, but God spoke into my life and healed me. I was on the brink of despair and disaster, but God gently guided me back and gave me fresh hope. My flesh and heart and mind failed, but God was, and is, and will always be, my only strength and hope. But God. Where in your life, in what situation, can those two profoundly simple words inject some hope?