In these days of viruses and fears, my mind wanders to days of yore, back when I was sitting in a high school English class studying the different parts of speech.
In that class, Mrs. Davis taught us about nouns and pronouns, verbs and adverbs. Adjectives were always interesting. But the one part of speech which fascinated me then and intrigues me still are those little known and less observed terms called conjunctions, particularly, those two seemingly insignificant terms, “but” and “yet”.
Reading my Bible, I find those two terms to be very important, so important that a friend of mine refers to them as “the hinges of our faith”.
They occur countless numbers of times throughout the Scriptures, but two of the most significant, especially for this day and time, have a tremendously uplifting message for you and for me.
The first of these is found in the little known and less read book of Habakkuk. This prophet of God was living in a time when society was caving in and God was dealing with His people in an unprecedented way. Times were rough and there seemed to be little light at the end of the tunnel.
Habakkuk puts it this way (3:17-19):
“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet (emphasis mine) I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.”
Did you get that? Do you see how the prophet’s attitude shifted from one of despair over the current conditions to rejoicing in all that God has to offer in times of crisis?
May I attempt to paraphrase these verses to reflect the times we currently live in? (Apologies to Habakkuk!):
“Though I live in isolation
And have run out of toilet paper,
Though there is no toilet paper available
and the shelves are empty by 9 a.m.,
Though I cannot attend my granddaughter’s concert
And am so concerned for my investments…
Yet, despite all this,
I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord – the one who is in absolute control –
He is my daily strength and supplier.
He will provide the victory for me
In these trying times.“
Another place where one of these little conjunctions plays a major role is found in Psalm 13.
“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long….? How long…?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.”
As I read those words, it is almost as if David was anticipating from afar (3,000 years ago!) the coming of a world-wide pandemic and the results of it upon our lives:
“How long, Lord, before we can worship together again?
Before we can hug or even shake hands?
How long before there will be Major League Baseball or other sports again?
How long before we can quit wearing masks and gloves?”
But for David the questions stopped when he reached that little “hinge of the faith”, the conjunction “but”:
“But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.”
Can you sense the change in David’s heart? For both he and Habakkuk, those two little conjunctive phrases tuned the raw human emotions of despair and frustration in a sagging heart to expressions of renewed faith and re-aligned trust in a wonderful Lord who so abundantly and overflowingly (is that even a word?) showers upon us his a love that is unfailing, a grace that leads to eternal salvation, and a sovereign control that becomes for us a cradle of hope in the future.
A pastor friend has coined a phrase that helps in times like these. He says: “OUR GOD IS LARGE… AND HE’S IN CHARGE!
That’s a great thought to remember and repeat every time our hearts even think about despairing.
“OUR GOD IS LARGE… AND HE’S IN CHARGE!
And because He is, we can trust in Him always!
God bless …
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.