In my AS English Literature class, we are studying A Passage to India by E.M. Forster, and in the opening chapter of this novel, he uses the words “sallow hospital” as a part of the description of the town of Chandrapore that serves as the setting for much of the book. As one of my students pointed out this week, this is quite ironic. To describe a hospital as “having the appearance of being unhealthy” doesn’t bode well for the patients. For my part, I was thrilled that the student had even taken the time to look up the definition of sallow–and even more excited that they had seen the irony of the description.
As an English teacher, I, of all people, should know this. Just last week, I instructed students to remove an entire list of “banned words” from their research paper. And as I was doing so, I noticed myself using a number of those same words. This of course caused ripples of laughter from my students as I stuttered to correct myself mid-sentence. Oops.
This morning, a friend was sharing from Psalm 18, one of my favorite chapters. As he read verse 19, I noticed that his version used a slightly different verb tense than my ESV Bible, with enormous effect:
“He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.”
“He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delights in me.”
The present tense, “delights,” influenced the impact of the verse enough that I noticed the difference even without following along in my own Bible. God did the grand act of rescuing me once, in the past, not because he once delighted in me, but because he currently delights in me.*
Innate in the wiring of humanity is the desire to be wanted, desired, and loved.
How fitting is it that God Himself fulfills that need that is at the core of our being.
He didn’t merely create us and throw us into the world to fend for ourselves, knowing we would fail miserably. Instead, he made an incredible sacrifice in order to redeem and restore us (which in and of itself is mind-blowing) because HE DELIGHTS IN US. Read those words again.
Words matter. If I choose to believe and remember and live as if these words are true (and they are!), then that changes things.
*Note: I honestly have no idea which version is a more correct translation of the original Hebrew. I don’t believe it matters. Scripture as a whole supports the latter translation just as well–that God does indeed currently delight in us. So go live it!
This post is a part of the Words Matter Link-Up.