But God...

Few descriptions are complete without using the word “But.”  That is true because few things in our world are consistent from beginning to end.
“But” is an interesting word, a word with power far beyond its simple structure.  It is a conjunction implying contrast or exception,  “on the contrary,” “except,” “unless.”  “He was rich, but never learned to enjoy his wealth because he never learned to give.”  One assumes “rich” suggests some potential for enjoyment, but in spite of his wealth, joy is missing. Because is also a conjunction that implies consistency:  in the above sentence, lack of giving is consistent with lack of joy.  Possessing wealth is no guarantee of joy.  (I actually did not think of addressing giving in these sentences, but one could certainly infer that, in the least, I had subconscious intent to do so.  Perhaps.)
2 Kings 5:1 begins the story of Naaman, a very high ranking officer in the Syrian army, “the captain of the army of the king of Syria.”  He was a decorated veteran, and rightfully so.  He was valiant in battle, and successful, because strangely to us, “by him the Lord had given victory to Syria.”  The inconsistency in this man’s life of success was, “but he was a leper.”  
Leprosy was a terrible disease, a death sentence, slow but incurable.  Its early signs were often missed – perhaps nothing more than a white  flaky sore on the skin.  In its course, however, it changed every facet of one’s life.  Because of its contagion, the victim was ultimately isolated.  Because of its disfiguring factor, a specter of fear was associated with it; because of the spiritual overtones that developed with it, it was seen as a plague from God.  In Naaman’s case, perhaps the disease had not progressed far enough to be recognized by outsiders, but Naaman knew.  The “but” of leprosy negated all else he had accomplished.
One cannot leave the story without reading the whole chapter.  A word from a servant girl, a visit to a prophet, Elisha, a directive from God to dip or rinse seven times in the Jordan River, initial reticence to do so but ultimate obedience, and the God who was the source of his military victories became the God whom he encountered on a much more personal basis.
Scripture is not a narrative on the dystopian inexorable progress of sin nor the utopian dreams of universalism;  it is a description of God’s good creation, scarred and disfigured by “The Fall,” but anything but abandoned by God.  Each time sin is in the ascendency, God intervenes.  The principle is, “Where sin abounded, grace super-abounded.”  It is an exposition of “But God…”  This is not an idea of some cosmic game, but a struggle that is played out both on earth and in the heavens.  The God who interrupts and limits the alien contagion we call sin, yet seems to allow sin to continue to exist, has already declared its end; it and its author, Satan, and all who follow him, will be cast into the lake of fire.  Instead of God interrupting a world that is otherwise universally fallen, where sin does abound, the time will come when the leprosy of Naaman, the evil that brought on the flood, the spirit of hatred and violence that was the climate of the crucifixion of Christ, the iniquity that fuels all of the evils of man – it will all be destroyed, and there will be a new heaven and new earth where only righteousness dwells.
There are hopeless situations in life, that is, hopeless in our perception.  “But God” – the God who makes sure light shines into the darkest situations, sets the limits, interrupts, redeems, forgives, heals and delivers.