Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Why Does God Help You Find Your Keys?

Admit it! You've prayed for God to help you find your keys, or something equally as trivial. You opened your eyes and there they were. Then you've wondered why a loving God would answer your prayer and not those of the millions of starving people in Africa. Perhaps you begin to feel like the following blogger:

"If God is an interventionist, He's doing a piss poor job. He helps middle-class americans find their keys while thousands suffer and die in other parts of the world. If God is an interventionist, I don't think He's worthy of worship. If God isn't an interventionist, and we are on our own, what practical difference does it make if we believe in Him or not? Either way, I just don't see the point in worrying about God anymore. Either what He is like, what He wants, or even if He exists."

If so, you need to review your Mormon Doctrine. God allows suffering in this life to help us develop all the things that we need in order to become purified and return to live with him someday. No one can live in the presence of Deity unless they have become sanctified. Trials are part of the sanctification process. This does not mean an interventionist God personally hands you every bit of suffering you experience here. (Didn't you read my Good, Bad, and Ugly Adversity post?) But God will allow the suffering that is a mortal condition of this world so that we can develop our agency and become holy.

So why does he sometimes help us find our keys? He won't interfere in the vicissitudes of life which help us to grow and attain glory. But perhaps our lost items aren't enough of a trial to teach us anything. Maybe we've already developed the small amount of patience necessary to deal with lost keys. If so, God can help us out a bit without interfering with the learning process.

...or maybe they were just there the whole time.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think I have enough faith to find lost keys, but not enough faith to save the starving in Africa...

Somrtimes I think itis because God can bring a memory to my mind, but not food to the millions.

Sometimes I think like you think.

Most of the time I think that the atonement is God's answer to suffering in this universe which has always existed. It is an inner peace and santification that it brings, not a parting of the Red Sea.

But where does that leave the parting of the red sea?

A long time ago and in a different dispensation of time, perhaps.

Matt W.

Bookslinger said...

The question isn't "why does God allow people to starve to death in Africa?". The question should be "why are we (you and I) allowing people to starve to death in Africa?"

We humans have abilities to alleviate suffering and starvation that we aren't fully utilizing, even if that ability is merely writing out a check to an organization that has "people on the ground."

I would like to say to the snarky blogger, and others like him, "How much money have you donated to feed the hungery?"

Send the snarkers to:


The International Rescue Committee

UN World Food program.

Some people are so snarky about what God should do with his power and resources.

But those same people don't apply the same reasoning to themselves. For every frivolous or non-essential purchase or expenditure, one could ask "Do you really need that? Why don't you forgo that purchase (of something you don't really need) and donate the money to help feed the starving in Africa?"

brooke said...

When I got home from my trip to Palestine and Israel with the Christian Peacemaker Teams this question of suffering was huge in my mind. The tragedies that I was daily witness to tore my heart out. Here I was with the *Christian* Peacemaker Teams daily witnessing this. How could a loving God let such good people go through this? Then being that I was in Palestine and Israel of course my mind went to the Holocaust. The Holocaust is the ever present narrative in that area. How could a loving God - the God that I believe in - allow that to happen?

Of course this question for me hasn't just been limited to this summer. I've had this question for a long time, even before I ever declared myself a Christian. For me I found an answer that satisfied me - it was found in one of the sermons of my new Pastor. He said:
God promises not to remove our darkness in the present, but to walk with us each step we take through it. ~Rev. Paul Heins

And his answer may seem trite and easy, especially for someone like me - writing this from the comfortable confines of my office here on the Utah State University campus. I know - my situation is far different than the refugee camps of the Sudan, the starving children of Ethiopia, the South Hebron Hills where illegal Israeli settlements are slowly choking an ancient way of life. I get that, but as I imagine those people in the South Hebron Hills who's stories changed my life, and I imagine God walking with them, I do find a bit of peace. They aren't alone.

And bookslinger - your point is well taken with me. I do what I can, and some days not enough. I'm hoping, though, that I will be able to use this PhD I'm working to get for good - for people like those I met in Palestine. But, I can't let my own failings and my current life be an excuse for not trying to do more in the present. Thanks for the reminder.

Bored in Vernal said...

Thank you! That first site was amazing. You have indeed touched my heart and helped me to repent. I decided not to buy or eat anything today and donate a bit of money to Haiti. I encourage all my readers to do the same.

Matt, you have raised some good points. Today I was able to muster up enough faith to (do a tiny part in) saving the starving. It wasn't a parting of the Red Sea, perhaps, but it was a little miracle in my soul.

Readers, think of the times you've been able to find your keys. Think of the blessings of owning a vehicle. Then click on one of Bookslinger's links. Let me know what happens.

Bored in Vernal said...

Brooke, we posted at the same time, but I do want to tell you that the time you were able to devote to the people in the Middle East was also an inspiration to me at the time.

Howard said...

God is not an interventionist, he respects agency and as you point out suffering can also play a part.

Lost keys and starving Africans are very different examples. Your keys are literally within your grasp, no one's agency is involved but your own. You exercise your agency by praying and he helps you find them. You physically retrieve them on your own. Food is not within the grasp of starving Africans, at least not with the same ease as your keys. Africans may exercise their agency by praying for food but they cannot acquire food on their own, it involves the help and agency of others.

Personally I believe he is waiting for us to feed them. Maybe he's hopping that if we find our keys we'll be able to get started.

Bored in Vernal said...

:) cute, Howard. I love it!

Ana said...

A while ago, I wondered why I was getting answers to my lost-wallet prayers and not answers to my apostate-family prayers or my dying-grandpa prayers or my infertility prayers. I ended up feeling like the found wallet was a way God said to me, "I'm not ignoring you." I don't believe He's ignoring world hunger or war either. But I'm embarrassed to say you're still a lot more likely to find me (and most other people, I bet) praying about and working on the misplaced minutiae of my own petty life than the big problems of the world. Maybe we're not asking enough. And maybe we're not, like Bookslinger said, trying enough.

Bored in Vernal said...

Cool, Ana. I had one of those "I'm not ignoring you" experiences, too. Our God is an awesome God.

LittleStarling said...

Along the same lines...
"For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to dicide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course; To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world. And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven." Genesis 14:30-32 JST.
My experience has been in agency and faith, that God will(eventually) give us what we truly desire with all our hearts. Perhaps, we are limiting the power promised to us per our divine nature as children of God for our desire. What do we really want more...peace on earth, and goodwill towards man...or to find our keys?