God and Grammar, Hurt and Hope: God Ties It All Together

By Eugene C. Scott

God must not have studied grammar under the same crotchety English teachers I did. Over and over, in the beginning chapter of Genesis, God starts sentences with the Hebrew character Waw, or in this context the word and.

I imagine God standing at the blackboard, in a Far Side-like scene, writing one hundred times, “Never begin a sentence with and.”

Too often, however, our rules, of grammar and life, don’t reflect reality.

And so it is with Genesis chapter one. Some may not consider those sentences grammatically correct, but they are theologically correct. Through the repeated use of the conjunction and, we hear the movement of God. Like waves rolling onto the beach, they push us deeper into the reality of God’s continued action in our world. Listen to the rhythm.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . . darkness was over the surface of the deep. . . .

And God said, ‘Let there be light. . . .’

And God said, ‘Let the water teem with living creatures. . . .’

And God said, ‘Let the land produce living creatures. . . .’

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

Any other conjunction, butthenso, etc., would not deliver the same seamless message. There is darkness and light, water and life. There is life, and it is very good! Life seems to turn on little things, like the use of a small word. There is pain and there is hope. In other words, hope often comes in conjunction with pain, if we let God finish the sentence.

For example, Dee Dee (my wife) and I lost the last of our parents in the last few years. I’m surprised still how often and deeply the hurt resurfaces. I see my mom’s face in every lovely elderly woman. I hear my father-in-law’s laugh the strangest of times. And–God is walking with us through the long grief. Now we often laugh and cry when we think of our parents.

With one little word and one mighty sweep of his hand, God draws the sting out of even death. God is the conjunction between suffering and hope.

Compare these sentences. Your cancer is progressing but treatment may help. Your cancer is progressing and God is with you and God cares and God holds the keys to life and death. Do you hear the rhythm? For me, this insignificant word and makes all the difference in the world. When I read Genesis one, I don’t see a God of the past. I see a God of the continual present, a God who can take one thing and sculpt it into something new. God grabs today and turns it into tomorrow.

I’m not playing semantics here. God can replace fear with faith, ashes with beauty, brokenness with healing, and scars with strength. I have seen God do just that in my life and the lives of those I work with. But we must allow God to connect the dots. Denying or avoiding either side of the equation (pain or hope) confuses our emotions and inside we bind up like fishing line tangled in on itself. Eventually the whole mess must be cut out and we have to start from scratch. Denying the pain builds scar tissue too deep to penetrate. Ignoring hope drowns us in a pool of hopelessness. Letting God connect the two transforms tough moments in our lives into monuments of faith.

God is the author and finisher of our lives. And that makes God the conjunction between suffering and hope, life and death, today and tomorrow, and heaven andearth. God began writing the prose of your life. Even when suffering over comes you, let God finish the story.

And in God’s words it will be good.

Eugene C. Scott is a husband and father and grandfather and co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church and a writer and a bow hunter but not a grammarian.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “God and Grammar, Hurt and Hope: God Ties It All Together

  1. John Moyer

    I hike with three guys, now into our year #18 or so. Marlin just lost his second wife on Sunday. His first wife died four years ago. We all had lunch together yesterday Tuesday. Marlin was smiling, calm and collected, a pillar of strength…I think. He grinned and said to us “two is enough!” I am sure he is grieving deeply, but busy with a houseful of relatives, plans for a memorial on next Tuesday. He is an example of the Lord’s grace and strength, a place to grab onto in times such as these. Two wives now gone, what more can anyone bear up with. His grace is sufficient, Marlin is accessing it moment my moment. What a testimony.

    • John:

      I am glad he has such a friend as you, especially is these tough times for him. He is probably right “two is enough.” What a godly and courageous man. It gives me hope as to who God can make me into. But this also reminds me I won’t become that man without some pain.

      We prayed for him and you at our meeting this morning. Eugene

  2. Georgie-ann

    And, God is Good, … Always.

    It’s kind of like learning to swim in water that is over your head,…you either ARE able to swim in it — (you already have “gotten the knack”) — or, you are a little (or a lot) panicked, thrashing around, hoping against hope that you’ll be able to keep your head above water, make it back to the edge of something to hold onto, or that someone stronger who can definitely navigate these things will come along to help, or that someone will throw you a life preserver.

    “Dear God, Please don’t let me drown!” we pray,…we cry out for help when our supports are suddenly moved,…

    We are often afraid that we will drown — be “overcome” by our emotional state or reactions — and this fear, in and of itself, can be a hindering and paralyzing force. Perhaps we loved and were very attached to, and depended on someone or something, that “has been taken away” one way or another. At some point in time, ALL of us will face conditions and events that will require some “transitioning,” fear, apprehension, heartbreak, desperation, before new conditions and supports and equilibrium are able to come into place for us. Earthly life is always vulnerable to “changes,” and adaptability and resilience do not always come easily to us.

    We like to hold on to “sameness” and predictability. We like to feel “safe.” And we WILL have seasons of predictability and safety, but we will also have to face the vulnerability and temporariness of the earthly conditions of “this life,” as ultimately, NO ONE masters “this life” permanently, and nothing lasts forever,…except God and the precious “things” that we cannot see: love, faith, truth, the essence of loved ones, our promise of eternity,…

    It is both wise and a blessing to value and develop “a support system” of trustworthy “others” to be together with us as we navigate these somewhat “unchartered waters” that will be our lives. Friends, relatives, AND Family of God can be a network of life-saving help, cheer, experience and goodwill.

    We weren’t meant to be without all the “ANDS,” and God promises to be with us through it all.

    God’s “ands” are very good, wherever He puts them.

    Nice points in your nice article, Oogene!,…TY!

    • Georgie:

      That first paragraph is a powerful metaphor, a blog unto itself. Thanks. I pray you know God’s protection and challenge, grace and forgiveness and all else you need from him. Eugene

      • Georgie-ann

        Dear Oogene,…since I am now “old” and have survived many challenges and experiences, and have long deemed God my savior — not only in terms of the salvation of my soul — but also as the chief navigator of my path and rescuer in my on-going safety, I have much to attribute to God in gratitude and appreciation. AND I have also learned “a few things” about choices, discernment, and survival. The quest to learn more of God never ends for me, and He is very faithful to lead me into His “new pastures,” where He not only rests and feeds me, but also shows me new vistas, insights and understandings.

        “Our God is a totally Awesome God!”

        ********* ********* *********

        I suppose there have always been vegetarians and their related “philosophies,” but God is the one who clothed Adam and Eve in animal skins, and in the time of Noah after the Flood, instructed them to eat meat.

        Genesis 3:21 “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.”

        Genesis 9:1-3

        1 So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.”

      • You’re not old. You’re wisened.

      • Georgie-ann

        Well,…it has surely taken some time and some powerful and fearful experiences to get here,…(wherever “here” is),…and I’m glad to know that God is with me,…

        One key to inner peace: I’ve developed “selective hearing” in the sense that I recognize lots of voices that have nothing to do with God, and I edit them out quickly from consideration,…(-:

        Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”

        Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

  3. Rita

    Just saw “a bow hunter” and I froze in my tracks (much like the animals do that you kill for sport). How on God’s Beautiful Earth can a “man of God” justify a blood sport as he’s preparing to teach the Truth of God Almighty? It’s beyond anything my feeble mind can grasp. Good-bye.

    • Rita:

      Thanks for reading my blog. I hope that it spoke to you before you got to the bow hunter part that offended you. And thank you for taking the time to respond.

      I am hesitant to respond and defend myself because past conversations of this kind tend not to be productive. In other words, I will probably not convince you of my view point.

      But you asked me how I can hunt and be a man of God. So, I will try to answer.

      It seems to me you make several assumptions that may not be accurate.

      1. My friends all tease me about my lack of success in the hunting filed. You presume I have killed something with my bow. Not yet. (Just throwing a little humor in on a tense topic.)

      2. But seriously, you assume that I hunt for “sport.” Though I receive much pleasure–and pain–from hunting (I feel most alive and with God when in the woods), I do not do it for sport. I will not hunt game I will not eat. I do not pursue trophies. You may find this hard to believe, but my hunting first and foremost provides food for my family. Just as it was intended to do.

      3. You also seem to presume that hunting disqualifies me to be a pastor/preacher. Though, because hunting offends you, it may disqualify me from being your pastor, there is nothing I can find in Scripture that supports your view that a “man of God” ceases to be so if he is a hunter. If God forbade hunting, I would sadly obey.

      4. Finally you may be laboring under what I call the “Leave No Trace Fallacy.” Leave No Trace is a slogan that–on the surface–encourages people in the woods to clean up after themselves and leave as little impact on the ecology as possible. This is a good thing. I have long done this, long before anyone came up with the slogan. But underneath this slogan is the foundational belief that we can exist without our existence costing others or the ecology something. The truth is that our lives often cost other things, animals, plants, etc., their very lives, whether you take that life yourself or pay someone–a grocer, butcher, farmer, rancher, or hunter–to take it for you. In the bigger sense there is no way we can “Leave No Trace.” This side of Genesis 3 something must and does die in order for you and me (all things) to continue living.

      Thanks again for reading. I hope this helped you understand the ancient and beautiful world of hunting a bit better.

      Eugene

  4. Evan Roth

    I liked the “and” post, Eugene. I don’t normally think in terms of rhythms like that and it was helpful.

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