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“So that” is probably more important than you thought, and this week, the Collect presents the perfect opportunity to look at “so that”.
Almighty and merciful God, graciously keep from us all adversity, so that, unhindered in mind and body alike, we may pursue in freedom of heart the things that are yours. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
A quick look at the definition of adversity: Adversantia (Lat) harmful, to be against, resist, oppose, or, something that keeps us “hindered.”
In this prayer we ask God to keep from us all adversity, not to keep us from all adversity. What's that mean? We'll explore that, too.
Here’s where the “so that” comes in to play.
“So that” is a conjunction (technically a subjective conjunction) that connects two different types of phrases. One phrase is independent, the other is dependent (or subject to the independent phrase).
As we look at the prayer, “Graciously keep from us all adversity” is the independent phrase.
The dependent phrase is “so that we may pursue in freedom of heart the things that are yours.”
Note that the independent phrase can stand on its own. “God, keep from us all adversity.” Period. End of sentence. That’s a good prayer, but it’s not finished. We have a "so that."
The dependent phrase, the “so that” and everything after it, is not possible on its own. It depends on the independent phrase. We cannot freely pursue the things of God without God’s help keeping adversity from us.
Another example is in Joshua 23:5. Joshua tells the Israelites, “The LORD, your God, will drive them out and dislodge them at your approach, so that you will take possession of their land as the LORD, your God, promised you.”
Notice that the Israelites didn’t sit back, just waiting. God drove out their opposition as they moved forward. The Israelites could never be able to possess the land if God had not gone before them, removing their adversities.
If we want to pursue what God has for us, like the Israelites, we need to trust God to take care of the adversity.
That’s another thing about “so that.” It also has a connotation of action taking place. Sometimes it seems like that action is me working through what I want until I get to what God wants. Sometimes the action is letting God take care of it.
Lectio the Liturgy: This week listen for the “so that.” You can start with this weekend’s second reading from 1st Thessalonians 4:13. Also, spend some time with John 15:10-11, John 3:16, and Titus 3:4-7.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
Thanks for praying with me, I pray you find Joy in the Word.