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Re: Did God really help you find a boat?

Posted: 05 Aug 2014, 09:38
by Steve-o
There are children being abused right now. There are children starving right now. And God helped you find a boat? Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds? God didn't save the Jews from the Holocaust but he directed you to a boat? Really? REALLY?"
Yeah. Exactly.

God is either a capricious God, choosing to help someone purchase a boat while not saving millions of lives, OR he is simply hands off to let us work through our lives to the best of our abilities. Personally, I think viewing him as hands off is more faithful than believing he is a respecter of persons helping one person find a spool of thread while refusing to save a child and his family from still birth. A capricious God is an unloving, unknowable, inconsistent, changing God. For me, that view doesn't inspire much faith.

Re: Did God really help you find a boat?

Posted: 05 Aug 2014, 11:13
by Roy
We have a wonderful woman (Mary) in my ward. In her conversations with DW, whenever DW talks about good things that are happening in our family Mary will say, "tithing blessings."

This is truly ironic because we haven't paid a dime of tithing in years (though we encourage our children to pay).

DW and I have discussed that for Mary this perspective is helpful and necessary. 1) Things always seem to be tight with her family so focusing on the "blessings" derived from tithing (like having an old clunker of a car survive another month) helps to justify the expense. 2) This perspective allows her to maintain more gratitude. 3) Sometimes people will ascribe the help they receive from others to God. In thinking about this, I have come up with the following theory: People cannot be depended on 100%, but God can. I can use good things that people do as evidence that God knows my needs and is mindful of me. This thought is more comforting than just having helpful friends and neighbors.

Mary was recently diagnosed with MS and has trouble doing all of the things that she usually does. Headaches from her lack of eye coordination even limit her from playing on the floor with her children. It has been really difficult for this perpetually serving sister to now be on the receiving end of service.

I hope that in her life going forward she is able to have joy and gratitude in whatever way is most helpful to her.

Now, when I hear people say something that sounds naive but is otherwise harmless - I remember Mary and take joy in the perspective for a moment. It is somewhat like watching kids get excited for Christmas. May the comfort their perspective gives them persist throughout their life.

P.S. My personal perspective is that God loves but does not intervene in our mortal lives (with rare exceptions?). I am open to others having different experiences as I am loath to tell another that their view on their life is wrong - just as I would want others to give my perspective on my life the benefit of the doubt.

Re: Did God really help you find a boat?

Posted: 05 Aug 2014, 12:45
by SunbeltRed
All fair points...if you can't tell my new faith house sometimes isn't as well thought out as it should be. Good to have others perspectives which helps me examine these points from another angle.

I really have no interest in taking away others helpful stories. To be honest, it might be really nice and probably a lot more comforting to think the way Mary does. I personally can't do it, and in fact am a bit jealous of that kind of faith.

I guess the most I can do is act in a way that might be the answers to someone's prayer, and if they want to attribute that to God intervening in their life, I am happy to act as the link.

Re: Did God really help you find a boat?

Posted: 05 Aug 2014, 12:47
by Roadrunner
I believe some Muslims use the phrase "God willing" at the end of many statements. For years I found that annoying - as if they were adding a caveat when commiting to do something - but I later had a BYU professor who said he found it to be a refreshing statement of humility - which I hadn't considered. The idea that God gets the credit for all good things sounds nice at some level and can be refreshing when comparing it to the greed and self-centeredness we often see.

That being said, I believe in a god that largely lets things happen and don't really credit him for much that happens in my life. However, I do ask him to bless my bean burrito for dinner, which is similar to giving him credit for helping us find a boat. It's probably more tradition and trying to be grateful than anything. If I don't get food poisoning and if I sleep safely through the night, it's not my wife's excellent cooking and it's not the policeman who get the credit, but god. Probably not a bad thing, but others should at least share the credit.

Re: Did God really help you find a boat?

Posted: 05 Aug 2014, 13:40
by Roy
SunbeltRed wrote:I guess the most I can do is act in a way that might be the answers to someone's prayer, and if they want to attribute that to God intervening in their life, I am happy to act as the link.
This is how I view priesthood/Father's blessings.

Re: Did God really help you find a boat?

Posted: 05 Aug 2014, 14:19
by SMiLe
I also feel that God takes a fairly hands off approach to our daily existence. I don't view everything that goes wrong in life as necessarily a test and not everything that goes right is divine intervention. After all, some things that go wrong are simply the consequences of someone else exercising their agency and even criminals have things go right for them on occasion. I do believe that God may decide to directly intervene on someone's behalf but it probably happens rarely and would fit in with miracles in my mind.
Roadrunner wrote:However, I do ask him to bless my bean burrito for dinner, which is similar to giving him credit for helping us find a boat. It's probably more tradition and trying to be grateful than anything. If I don't get food poisoning and if I sleep safely through the night, it's not my wife's excellent cooking and it's not the policeman who get the credit, but god. Probably not a bad thing, but others should at least share the credit.
This made me smile. A few years back I ran into the joke about how Mormons were some of the only people who would bless donuts and soda to "strengthen and nourish" their bodies. After reflecting on the validity of that joke, I changed how I say grace. I still say grace but no longer ask God to bless the food. Instead, I try to simply thank God for the fact that I have a meal to eat and try to remember those who don't have that blessing in their lives.

Re: Did God really help you find a boat?

Posted: 05 Aug 2014, 15:36
by mercyngrace
Reminds me of a conference talk - don't remember who it was right now but this apostle (Neil L. Anderson maybe?) was in med/grad school and was hungry walking/biking home one day. God helped him find a quarter on the ground so he could buy a piece of chicken.

Too bad there aren't more quarters on the ground in Africa... lots of hungry people there, I imagine...

Sigh. This is the kind of stuff that makes my head hurt.

My sister and I were actually discussing this earlier today. She said someone told her that God only helps the righteous. Someone told me that God gives us small miracles so that we can have faith in the times when He lets us experience hardship.

What kind of parent will run out to pick up donuts because you're whining about not wanting oatmeal for breakfast but will refuse to get you to the best doctors available when you get diagnosed with leukemia? And then when you ask why they seem to turn a blind eye to your suffering, they say "But hey, remember that time I bought you donuts?"

Really? Sigh. No. Double sigh.

Re: Did God really help you find a boat?

Posted: 05 Aug 2014, 19:20
by mercyngrace
So I wrote the previous comment when I was rushing out the door and didn't finish my thought... (and being busy is why I rarely post. Doh!)

It's not that I don't believe God loves us or cares. I do. It's that I believe we have a weak understanding of how God works in this world and our explanations are often simplistic to the point of disheartening, confusing, and faith-trying.

I can barely stand to hear this kind of stuff anymore because in my mind's eye, I see the person who would be devastated at hearing about how God is all up in your trivialities while seeming to ignore their devastation. Forget the fact that I don't think it's even doctrinally sound, really, to expect God to disrupt the very world of opposition He designed and set in motion for our express benefit so that He could eliminate said opposition just because we prayed.

I do find power in prayer. Prayer helps open me up to possibilities I might otherwise refuse to see. Prayer helps me find meaning in my struggles and solidarity with or empathy for those whose hardships make mine seem ridiculously small. Prayer provides perspective. I find peace and I find answers but I don't find or expect God to make my life a cake walk just because I prayed or go all Magpie and lead me to a treasure trove of missing things. I expect God to honor the covenant we made and make me a better person through the process of mortality and almost all of the time that means ignoring my requests.

None of my powerful spiritual experiences, NONE, have involved God removing my burden (however large or small). All of them were powerful, paradigm shifting, realizations about why God would not remove it.

As a side note - and someone else may have already mentioned this - I find it laugh out loud funny that we will attribute finding some small lost item to answered prayers to the point of building testimony around the incident but if we pray and don't find our lost bobbles, we would never consider that a validation of atheism.

I wish I had a way to reconcile all the thoughts while whirl in my head about this topic but I've learned to be content with embracing prayer as a mystery. It's all I can do.

Re: Did God really help you find a boat?

Posted: 05 Aug 2014, 20:35
by Curt Sunshine
"I see the person who would be devastated at hearing about how God is all up in your trivialities while seeming to ignore their devastation."


The other example of this is the idea that God is behind the early death of someone, especially because, "God must have needed him/her in Heaven more than s/he was needed here." That is about the only expression I actively challenge - not just because I don't believe it but more because I think it is incredibly harmful to those left behind, especially in the case of children who lose a parent or sibling.

I have NO problem with someone believing it for themselves, but I do have a HUGE problem with them saying it out loud to someone who has lost someone.

Re: Did God really help you find a boat?

Posted: 05 Aug 2014, 20:52
by mom3
MercyandGrace - I know you are incredibly busy, but I really relish the moments when you pop in. Thanks for adding us to the busy day.