I am really swimming against the current concerning what I am about to say. Casting Crowns new number one hit is driving me crazy! In truth, I would like this song as much as other people do if it were not for the word “If” in the song’s title. The song I’m talking about of course is “If We’ve Ever Needed You”.
Am I the only person who has a problem with the word “if” used in this context? Am I making a huge grammatical error? Am I translating this title incorrectly?
This is the definition of the word “if” from an online dictionary:
1. in case that; granting or supposing that; on condition that: Sing if you want to. Stay indoors if it rains. I’ll go if you do.2. even though: an enthusiastic if small audience.
3. whether: He asked if I knew spanish.
4. (used to introduce an exclamatory phrase): If only Dad could see me now!
5. when or whenever: If it was raining, we had to play inside.–noun6. a supposition; uncertain possibility: The future is full of ifs.
7. a condition, requirement, or stipulation: There are too many ifs in his agreement.
8. ifs, ands, or buts, reservations, restrictions, or excuses: I want that job finished today, and no ifs, ands, or buts.Origin:
bef. 900; ME, var. of yif, OE gif, gef; akin to ON ef if, Goth ibai whether, OHG iba condition, stipulation
1, 2. If, provided, providing imply a condition on which something depends. If is general. It may be used to indicate suppositions or hypothetical conditions (often involving doubt or uncertainty): If you like, we can go straight home. If I had known, I wouldn’t have gone. If may mean even though: If I am wrong, you are not right. It may mean whenever: If I do not understand, I ask questions. Provided always indicates some stipulation: I will subscribe ten dollars provided ( on the condition ) that you do, too. Provided he goes, we can go along. Providing means the same as provided, that is, just in case some certain thing should happen: We will buy the house, providing ( provided ) we can get a mortgage.
I’m not sure if that definition clears anything up. In my mind the word “if” used in such a phrase as “if we have ever needed you, it is now” conveys a meaning that says “it is possible that I never had need of you before, but given my current circumstances I do need you now”.
I suppose it is possible to say this phrase to some people in my life. It would seem ridiculous for me to say this to my mother however. From the moment of my conception I needed my mother. I wouldn’t have survived my first nine months without her. After my birth there were times that I needed her more and times when I needed her less.
Even more ridiculous however would be for me to say to God Almighty, the One who regulates every breath I take, Who holds the Universe in the palm of His hand, “If I have ever needed you…” On a basic level saying that to God is naive. On a broader scale it seems arrogant and in the worst case scenario it seems blasphemous.
If we (Christians) are truly people of the Word, shouldn’t we be careful about how we phrase our words? If truth (God’s truth) matters shouldn’t we walk circumspectly in grammatical areas too?