The first time I heard the phrase “when you are down to nothing, He is up to something” was over 12 years ago. I was stale out of high school. I refer to myself as ‘stale’ because at this time I had been home for over two years waiting to get into the university. Now my being home for all this time was not because I didn’t make all my GCSE papers. However, I had tried fruitlessly to get into the university because I failed to meet the university’s cut-off mark for the course I wanted to study (Law). Thinking that, perhaps wanting to study Law was too high of an ambition, I decided to be more strategic and choose a different course this time around. So I opted for Mass Communication since my scores in the last two university exams far exceeded the department’s requirement. When I received my results that year, I was thrilled that I had far exceeded the cut-off mark not only for Law but also Mass Communication (well so I thought at the time). I felt things would finally work out this time around. A week later, the university released its cut-off marks for all the different departments only for my high hopes of getting accepted into my new course to be dashed upon the realisation that while I had (for the first time ever) exceeded the cut-off mark for the Law department, my score was in no way near that of Mass Communication department. It was deja vu all over again. I was hurt, I felt foolish and thought I had made the worst decision of my life. The worst part was, I couldn’t even bear to tell my parents who were very excited that their daughter had finally gotten a descent score to study Law. I felt helpless and could not mutter the courage to tell them I had changed my course of study and unfortunately did not make the cut-off yet again.
So here I was, clueless about what to do next. But then, I stumbled on a sermon on TV where, for the very first time I heard the phrase, “when you are down to nothing, God is up to something”. The preacher didn’t only stop there but went further to give different examples both in the old and the new testament to illustrate his point. Take the case of Joseph for instance, twice he was down on his luck sold into slavery by his brothers and then thrown into jail having being accused of trying to sleep with Potiphar’s wife. However at both times, ‘God was up to something’ in Joseph’s life because He showed up in ways that Joseph never saw coming (Genesis 37 & 39). There are so many instances in the bible of people who were down on their luck like Job who lost all that he owned within 24 hours but recovered much more than he lost (Book of Job). Or David who was almost killed as a baby, becoming royalty in Egypt, then running away after killing an Egyptian and returning later to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. Or God delivering Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego such that they were not harmed or burnt in a fiery furnace (Daniel 3). Or Jesus Christ turning water to wine at the wedding feast in Galilee (John 2: 1-110) and feeding the multitudes among many other miracles.
My favourite of these ‘down to nothing’ accounts in the bible is the story of the prophet’s widow whose husband left a huge debt and was at the point of selling her two son’s into slavery in order to pay the debt (2 Kings: 4). But she met Elisha who asked about what she had in her house. She said she had nothing but a little jar of oil. Elisha then told her to gather up all the bottles she could find (including that of her neighbours) and fill the jars with the oil. She was advised to pour out the oil into the jars she had collected one after the other. This was how she filled all the jars she had collected and was able to pay off her husband’s debt. Now this, for me is an epic account of God being up to something!
At that point, I was reminded that God is the same God of the old testament, the new testament and today. Hence, if He could do it for Joseph, David, Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego as well as the prophet’s widow, surely my situation should not be any different. Till today, I still can’t remember how I pulled through all the weeks of anticipating for the university admissions list to be out. I did nothing all through this period, but prayerfully asked God to step in and salvage the situation. I was down to nothing, and believing God was up to something was the only thing kept me going. He was sure up to something as I did find my name on the admissions list without me having to ask for any kind of ‘unjustified’ favours. And guess what? Studying Mass communication was one of the best decisions I ever made till date.
This experience has stayed with me up till today and its funny how whenever I find myself in a ‘down to nothing’ situation I begin to recount and remember occasions when I have been down on my luck (or when I thought I was) and how it turned out ‘God was up to something’. Even some of my unanswered prayers have made me realised God is always ever up to something especially at those crucial times when I had felt an unanswered prayer was going to be the end of me. This understanding have also made me realise that perhaps being ‘down to nothing’ isn’t a bad thing after all as it does hold the possibility of a new dream, a new challenge, new hope, rekindled faith and the best part being discovering deeper levels with our walk with God.
So are you down on your luck today? Are you dealing with life challenges and you feel you are at your wits end? Are you dealing with debt, addiction, fear, hurt, loneliness, sickness, bareness and brokeness (physically, spiritually and emotionally) or you have found yourself between the devil and the deep blue sea? Whatever the case maybe, I hope these words resonate with you today as it has for me all these years. I therefore hope that you let your heart and mind be anchored unto God’s heart through his words with the assurance that “when you are down to nothing, God is [definitely] up to something”!
If you have such testimonials of how God was up to something when you thought you were down to nothing, we would like to hear from you. You never can tell who needs to hear your story today!