Word plays (II of II)

I want to offer a slightly more complicated and perhaps obtusely academic interpretation of that key phrase itself “Lord, it hurts, but you’re still God” as a way of continuing the conversation TK so brilliantly advances. The phrase, it’s important to notice, is doing more than just making a claim. It’s playing with speech patterns and modes of daily expression. As I suggested in my earlier post, “Lord, it hurts” is both an address to the Almighty and a pun on a common expression of pain or suffering: LORD … that really hurts. Everyday usages like this have largely deadened the significance of the term “Lord” when used in that way, emptying it out of any real meaning so that it is gradually but unquestionably has become a universal linguistic place-holder. In one important way, this verbal obsolescence is precisely what the clause “But you’re still God” is highlighting and critiquing. Reversing the structure of that sentence and placing “God” at the end of the second clause accomplishes two important things: first, coming at the end of the sentence, the reference to divine Providence in the second clause emphasizes the reverential content of the noun, whereas the first sentence emphasizes the exasperated way one tends to invoke words like “Lord” without fully meaning anything. While there are plenty of commonplace expressions and phrases that use “God” in a tossed off fashion, none of them put God in the same position in the sentence that the line “you’re still God” does Don’t believe me? Try swearing using “God” at the end of the phrase and don’t include “damn.” Second, “You’re still God” is in some ways a syntactical mirror image of the initial complaint (”Lord it hurts”). Lookit:

Lord it hurts
You’re still God

The reversal in the second sentence reveals the obverse truth of depression or suffering contained in the first: the power of God is reflected back at us during the worst times, as evidenced by the very fact that we can say “Lord, it hurts, but you’re still God.” This was the point I was trying to make in the first post when I claimed that stating your spiritual debilitation is an integral part of receiving the strength to overcome adversity. At the same (and this gets to TK’s complaint about the non-sequitur) there is a great deal of psychological content compressed between the two phrases. And insofar as the lyric leaves listeners to make a lot of the connections that the song itself leaves unmade, yes … it’s less well crafted than it might have been (though I’m at a loss to think of anything remotely better that would work musically). But the compressed quality of the lyric does, I think (as I’ve tried to argue), hold up under scrutiny. Even if it didn’t, I derive a great deal of pleasure from this kind of discussion.

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