Edgar R. Schneider

Writings by members of ASPIRES

Copyright 2003 ASPIRES
All Rights Reserved

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"Hey, everybody!  Look at what got Alix into Who's Who in America!"

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Is it God's Will?

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Who is this man with such style, elogance, intellect and grace?

IS IT GOD'S WILL?

Anecdotal examples abound of people who, when faced with a crisis, had
that crisis resolved through means that defied natural explanation or
mere chance. If they were religious, they had prayed and will tell anyone
who will listen that "their prayers were answered." If they were not
religious, they say that they became so as a result of the experience.
Such things are called miracles.

Let's look at the other side of the coin. Suppose the crisis, in spite of
any amount of prayer, is not resolved in a satisfactory manner. Even more
to the point, suppose its resolution is nothing short of an unmitigated
disaster. Is the religious person to lose his or her faith, becoming an
atheist or at least an agnostic? Is the nonreligious person to forever
have a mental block against religion?
 

I believe that it can be said that excessive reliance on "answers to
one's prayers" is not only quite overrated, but also reveals a religious
faith that is somewhat fragile.

It is important to realize just what is being asked of God when one prays
for a miracle. When God created the universe, He set in motion the laws
of physics, chemistry, and biology by which this universe was to be
governed. The Book of Genesis states that, "He saw that it was good."
When something bad takes place, it means that these laws have come
together in a manner to effect that.

A physical miracle requires that He do something to abrogate one or more
of those laws solely for the benefit of the petitioner. While that is in
no sense beyond the realm of possibility, and undoubtedly has happened,
it is something He cannot be expected to do routinely. Often, when some
serious reversal occurs, we try to comfort the victim (or the survivor)
of the reversal by saying, "It was God's will." This must be taken to
mean that it was God's will not to abrogate the laws He set up for the
universe, in order to prevent what has happened.

If what happens to us is somewhat dependent on the actions of another,
God can put an idea into the mind of that other person that he do nothing
to hurt us. If that works, it is even more of a miracle than the physical
variety, which God can bring about unilaterally. However, that person has
free will, and, even though ultimately answerable to God for what he
does, can choose to ignore God's counsel and hurt us anyway.

What then can we ask of God?

A while ago, a rabbi wrote a book titled Why Bad Things Happen to Good
People. He not only really reached no conclusions, but dismissed as
unthinkable what is, to me, the obvious conclusion: that bad luck is
precisely just that. This is a hard pill to swallow because nobody likes
to believe that he has drawn a pair of deuces in the cosmic poker game.
This is why everybody's first instinct is to try to find someone to blame
for one's misfortune. All too often, when an actual villain cannot be
pinpointed, a handy scapegoat serves the purpose.

A little logic goes a long way to seeing my point. We may start with the
premise that only God is perfect. From this it necessarily follows that
the universe He created is less than perfect. When something is not
perfect, things can go wrong, and Murphy's Law comes into the picture.
Serious illnesses, natural disasters, and financial reverses are examples
of things that can and do go wrong.

Jesus himself recognized the luck of the draw. In the Sermon on the
Mount, He said, "The sun shines on the wicked as well as the righteous,
and the rain falls on the just as well as the unjust." When bad things
happen, it can no more be considered a sign of God's displeasure than can
His approval be used as an explanation of one's prosperity. Through the
fault of nobody, things may not turn out all right, and, even in spite of
our best efforts, the worst can happen.

To return to my previous question: what can we expect of God? We can
expect only the one thing that He has steadfastly promised us: that if we
sincerely try to live a good life, should the worst come to happen, He
will take care of us forever.

  E.R.G.S. - February 21, 1996

GO TOP

"We each have our own way of living in the world, together we are like a symphony.
Some are the melody, some are the rhythm, some are the harmony
It all blends together, we are like a symphony, and each part is crucial.
We all contribute to the song of life."
...Sondra Williams

We might not always agree; but TOGETHER we will make a difference.

 

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Updated 04/02/2014