Grammar Truths for LifeGod is all around us, constantly showing us His truth and love.
“Grammar saves lives!” When I saw this meme on Facebook, I couldn’t help but laugh. The accompanying “proof” made the headline even funnier:
“Let’s eat kids.”
“Let’s eat, kids.”
Well, when you look at it that way, I guess grammar really can save lives! Aside from the humor of it all, the meme got me thinking that maybe there’s more to punctuation than just good grammar. The more I thought about it, the more I knew I was on to something. And I soon realized that even on a spiritual level, grammar is crucial.
Let’s take a closer look at how these grammar truths can help us throughout life:
One of the definitions of the use of a period in a sentence is “a punctuation mark used chiefly to mark the end of a declarative sentence.” A period can also mean, “the completion of a single action.”
“It is finished.” Jesus’ final words (John 19:30 NIV) spoken just before dying on the cross are arguably the most important and life-changing words ever. The fact that Jesus was declaring, “It is finished” means that He was publicly making known formally, officially and explicitly that all He had been sent to do had been completed.
And the enemy of our souls can’t do anything about it. It is finished. And the period at the end of Jesus’ declaration seals it. With the completion of a single action (remember, the other definition of period), Jesus did what we couldn’t do and now we are totally and completely free. Period.
In grammar, an exclamation point indicates strong feelings and conveys emotion. If we’re really riled up when writing or texting, we may use several exclamation points at the end of a statement.
In recent years I’ve been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I’m sure many of you can relate. But let me just say that God is big enough to handle all our exclamations — written or spoken. Our emotions are no surprise to Him.
However, no matter what we’re going through, we can always fall back on one of the best exclamations of all time: God is good! The remembrance of this exclamation causes our hope to rise, our faith to step forward and our joy to return.
And because God is so good, we have the privilege of exclaiming that truth to others. As Psalm 145:3 proclaims, “Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness.”
I don’t believe there’s anyone among us who hasn’t questioned God. Why did You let her die? What am I going to do? Why won’t You answer me? When are You going to move? How could You let that happen?
Habakkuk had some questions for God of his own: “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save?” (Habakkuk 1:2 NIV). In fact, there are quite a few people in the Bible who had questions for God, which indicates that it’s okay to question.
Those God-directed questions may come from doubt, anger, fear or sorrow, and they’re still okay to ask. Asking questions is how we learn. It’s how we process, even if we don’t receive an answer that makes sense to us. Questions are often the start of conversations, even hard ones. So, go ahead and ask, but don’t forget to listen.
One purpose of a comma is to indicate a pause between parts of a sentence. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NIV). Read that again to understand just how important that comma — that pause — is to what is being said. That pause is crucial.
The pauses in our life are essential. Those pauses can mean the difference between responding and reacting, between peace and anger, between success and failure … and so much more.
I’ve learned to applaud the pause and commas taught me to do that. I once had an English teacher who insisted that we properly pause when reading aloud any sentence that contained a comma. Grammatically, that brief pause cleared up a lot of confusion; spiritually, it has done the same and much more.
Simply put, a semicolon says, “It’s not over yet; there’s more to come.” That’s my definition. An official definition states that a semicolon “indicates a pause, typically between two main clauses, that is more pronounced than that indicated by a comma.”
So, with a semicolon, there’s more to come. It’s not over. That’s not the end of the story. Job loss? That’s just life semicolon; there’s more to come. Betrayal? Death of a loved one? There’s more to come. It’s not over yet.
Life itself is a semicolon. There is always more to come. When we pass from this world into our eternal home, there’s still more to come. For this reason, we can always rejoice!
An ellipsis is used to show where words have been left out, often for brevity’s sake. Ellipsis comes from a Greek word that means “omission.” Used in this manner, an ellipsis reminds us that we don’t have to verbalize every thought. It really is okay (and often quite beneficial) to just keep our mouths closed at times.
Another purpose of an ellipsis is to show a pause in thought. Again, those pauses are so very important. And when we pause before speaking and check in with God, we’ll know what to say and what to leave out. Double bonus.
Perhaps it’s just the writer in me, but I do love grammar! I believe God speaks to us in many ways and in this case, through punctuation. God is all around us, constantly showing us His truth and love. May we have eyes to see.
Tammy Darling is a freelance writer who lives in rural Pennsylvania.