Every now and again I receive a forwarded e-mail that contains something useful. This one, a PowerPoint slideshow titled “25 Beautiful Short Phrases,” was really good. One of the phrases that ‘jumped’ out at me was “In the sentence of life, the devil may be a comma, but never let him be a period.” That, I thought, was one powerful phrase.
As I understand it, a ‘comma’ is a punctuation mark primarily used as a mark of separation within a sentence, while a ‘period,’ also a punctuation mark, represents the end of a sentence. The ‘comma’ invites a pause, a short delay, and in applying this understanding to the phrase, it reinforced in my mind that in the life of the believer, the devil can cause all kind of delays, but being neither the Alpha nor the Omega, our lives do not begin and end with him. He uses the delays we experience to provoke frustration and despair. Unanswered prayers, illnesses, family/relational conflicts, and job insecurity – these are just some of the weapons in his arsenal and if we are not careful, we could become so weighed down by these things that we forget that it is not the devil who has the last word, but God. Delays in life are inevitable, but we have the reassurance of the Psalmist, “Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous, but the Lord rescues him from them all.” (34:19, AMP).
Just as a comma cannot end a sentence, so the delays should not end our faith in the God of our Salvation. The challenges we encounter on our journey should not sway us from our goal of reaching our final destination. The statement in the slide puts the responsibility on us as individuals to never let the devil be a period. How do we do that? It’s all in our attitude during those delays. When we understand that God is at work in our lives perfecting [accomplishing] those things that pertain to us (Psalm 138:8), we can say like Job, “He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried [tested] me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10, KJV). Our challenge is trusting Him that He knows what He is doing. To that He reminds us, “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out–plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” (Jeremiah 29:11, MSG). That sometimes include periods of delay as well.
No matter the situation, nothing is over until God says it is over. He alone has the last word. He is the only one qualified to put a period on any event in our lives; everything else is just a comma. Do you feel like given up during those times? Don’t! While the devil is at work in the delays, so is God. Guess who wins in the end?